AR Start-Up, Meta, Promises The Desktop of the Future
by Jon Wood
I‘ve been lucky enough to test the MS Hololens on a number of occasions now, experiencing stuff like the TFL network and pre-visualising a new build development, for example. However, this article made me think about my current job role. I am a remote worker, and it’s often the case that I am on the go, jumping from meeting to meeting, and in between, I sometimes struggle to find somewhere with good wi-fi and seating, plus I have to charge my laptop – not always an easy task. With these daily headaches to deal with, it’s no surprise that the news of Meta’s new workspace sounds like a game changer for people like me.
I’d like to point out that this is not the end of the laptop but is instead showing us that that the software and hardware are now ready to take us into the next phase of the digital world and, better yet, it’s actually a simple solution.
A pet hate of mine is post-it notes or a putting a quick reminder in my diary. But the biggest issue I have are open tabs, I must have at least 10-12 tabs open every day on a 15.6-inch screen… Not sure if it’s just me but I am always accidentally closing a window by mistake or sometimes shutting everything down. Augmented reality startup Meta promises to manage all of that midair confusion in the not-so-distant future.
Meta’s new software, Workspace, uses a series of shelves with icons as a kind of desktop metaphor; you’re meant to open applications by grabbing them from a shelf with your hand. Now, this sounds cool, but I do struggle a bit when it comes to the grabbing function with the Hololens so this could be a bit of a barrier for the adoption of stuff like this until the grabby thing improves a bit.
That said, Workspace is cool because more and more of us are remote workers, many of whom are shooting from place to place like I am. Yes, I know, I know, a laptop is portable, but to be honest, we’re past that now – the whole point of tech is that it becomes less and less cumbersome over time, right? We need to have access to the web 24/7 – that’s just the way things are.
3D web browsing as it is only just around the corner, with some commentators predicting that the web will go fully virtual within a handful of years. Having your workstation displayed using AR on Hololens, with the whole web just a finger flick or a grab away, is the next logical progression. It’d just be so much more convenient.
Virtual monitors and web browsers are the future and augmented reality is proving that now. Of course, the Hololens is costly right now, but we all know how it goes – price comes down as adoption goes up. Simple economics. Just like the iPod to iPhone revolution, we will all follow suit as, whether we like it or not, we are living in a world which our digital lives are increasingly competing with our physical lives – the two are becoming interchangeable in some aspects.
One really cool function of the Workstation app is that it works with your smartphone. It lets you pull hand-drawn notes, pictures, and videos off your phone and place them anywhere you want in the air in front of you. You could have a photo of your children or partner floating in the corner of your digital desktop – just like you do on your desk at home.
Meron Gribetz, Meta’s founder and CEO has recently announced that he plans to get rid of all desktop PCs from his company’s offices and replace them with the Meta2 AR headset this year. A bold move – but one that I guess is one that the company has to do to demonstrate confidence in their product in any event.
At the end of the day, this type of technology is the next logical step forward, we’ve had smartphones, laptops, tablets, wearables, it’s now VR and AR’s time to shine. Meta’s offering is one of the first big moves that shows the potential that AR has for transforming our working lives. Though it still relies on a physical keyboard for now, it really won’t be long before this kind of tech is what we’re all using. I, for one, cannot wait.