Unreal Engine is the skeleton on which some of the biggest games are built. Hits like Ark: Survival Evolved, Batman Arkham VR and Gears Of War 4 rely on it to deliver ever more graphical realism – game design students and indie developers, too. Tim Sweeney founded the company that created the engine, Epic Games, and has made a name for himself as an outspoken champion for the PC ecosystem, taking even the mighty Microsoft to task over what he sees as its attempts to control PC games distribution.
But Sweeney has ideas about the future that go far beyond making Gears Of War 5 look good. In an exclusive interview with Glixel he shared his thoughts about the future of technology, virtual and augmented realities and the metaverse – a shared online virtual space that we'll all be living in, sooner or later. Here are the highlights:
VR glasses will change the world
Say goodbye to massive headsets that tether you to your computer and hello to futuristic spectacles.
"Over the next 12 years we're going to see VR scale down from a huge helmet to something the size of your glasses, which has a display for each eye that's higher quality than any display you can buy now, and cheaper, because it uses very little material. And that's going to revolutionize all forms of entertainment," he says.
AR – augmented reality – will be an iPhone-like success
"The device for a billion users is unquestionably AR," he predicts. "That's the mass-market consumer product that is analogous to the iPhone today. VR isn't that. VR is like a super hardcore, badass PC."
We'll soon be living most of our lives in the internet, not just on it
"I bet in 20 years, we're going to live a very large fraction of our lives in the metaverse," he says.
"Right now we're just typing stuff to each other in social media. Just imagine, if you telecommute, all of your work will be conducted through VR and AR. If there is one corporation that controls and accesses everybody's data stream, then they have complete insight into every aspect of everybody's lives."
We won't need Elon Musk's Hyperloop
"We'll recreate humans. You'll have inward-facing cameras capturing your facial motion and outward-facing cameras capturing your body motion," he says of this new virtual world.
"You'll be able to see anyone, doing their natural motions, wherever they are. Do anything but touch them. Elon Musk is building the Hyperloop, but we don't need that. We're going to have teleportation, with this technology."
He spent $15 million to look after some trees, but he doesn't expect you to go and visit them in person
"You might have half as much air travel in 15 years as you have now. You might have a great reduction in road traffic," he says.
"Unless your job involves touching people, you can simulate everything you do in a real-world work environment and telecommute through VR and you're missing absolutely nothing. You can sit in a conference room with a bunch of people and have deeply personal interactions, see their body language and their faces. You don't need to be there."
You can read the full and extensive interview here.