This sector isn’t just about new tech (though that’s always exciting!). It’s about combining technologies and discovering new applications in the name of innovation.
JOHN GOODWIN Professor/Coordinator, Game – Art Principal Investigator, The Mixed Reality Capture Studio
As a digital artist, applied researcher and professor, innovation in the technology sector has been a driving force in my career. The hardware and software we use today barely resembles what felt cutting edge 25 years ago. The appearance of Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) technology, pressure-sensitive tablets and screens, high resolution monitors and cameras, real-time online collaborative tools, gigabit connections to cloud-computing platforms, VR/AR and motion capture technology have all had a huge impact not only on the creative process, but on the way we think about communication with technology, and the user experience.
At Durham College’s third Centre of Excellence, the Mixed Reality Capture (MRC) Studio, we work with small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to prototype novel approaches to tech problems through applied research. It has rarely been my experience that innovation is simply the advent of a single disruptive technology. Real innovation tends to present itself not in the frequent, incremental advancement of discrete hardware or software, but in the process of mashing these technologies together in new, interesting ways.
For me, innovation presents in the nexus between “We have this problem” and “What if…” We help our business partners with a lot of immersive tech, from real-time engines for games and applications, to VR/AR simulation and visualization, virtual production and performance capture. Our students also use the MRC Studio as a learning lab, providing the rare opportunity for students from different programs to come together to build things that are interesting and new, and to learn from each other in the process.
The technology we use is impressive on its own, but the real value in it is the development of exciting user experiences: What happens when you mix wireless motion capture technology with untethered VR experiences? How can we use IoT sensors to read information like heart rate, body temperature, etc. and affect change in a virtual experience in real-time?
As each of these technologies came online, imbued with the ability to communicate with extensible real-time engines, our creative options for building unique experiences skyrocketed. As components are swapped out with others that have received incremental advancement, our experiences evolve through innovation in ways far more meaningful than with a singular, disruptive technology alone. Add to the equation new applied uses for each advancement, across sectors, and there’s no telling what the future looks like. But in my experience, and looking back at how far we’ve come? The sky truly is the limit.