Painting over the future with AR
Through the Looking Glass
In recent years, we have seen the emergence of a new category of smart electronic devices: wearable technologies. The wrist has been a big focus of such wearable devices with entries to the market such as Fitbit products and the Apple Watch. However, tech giants are beginning to experiment with products which are a bit more “in-your-face”: glasses. With it, a hot topic as of late is the rise of an infant technology known as augmented reality.
A Fantastic Reality
Augmented Reality (AR) blends the interactivity of the real world with augmentations from computer-generated elements to enhance our experiences. The fusion of smart glasses and AR brings a whole new dimension to how we engage with not only technology, but reality itself. If you’ve ever watched “Black Mirror”, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. For those who haven’t, here’s an example:
Imagine you’re at a party in the year 2028. A stranger strikes up a conversation, but you’re not quite sure what language they’re speaking. Fear not! Your iGlasses™ have auto-detected the conversation and are displaying subtitles across the bottom of the screen. Since they also have AR glasses, you respond in English and the rest of the exchange carries out. Sounds cool right? Well, we’re still a long way off from achieving something like this.
Fun and Games
Perhaps the most impressive application of AR so far is in mobile games. Two players with separate devices can interact with the same virtual space being projected in between them. Apple developed a competitive slingshot game where you destroy your opponent’s fort on the other side of the table. On a related note, does anyone remember Pokemon Go?
Pokemon Go was the product of early augmented reality experimentation. In 2016, we bore witness to the time humans came closest to becoming zombies. Mindless teens and young adults wandering the streets with phone-in-hand searching for imaginary (but undeniably cute) creatures to capture. This was a perfect recipe for disaster.
Should AR be a no go?
Unsuspecting and distracted Pokemon Go players found themselves to be the victims of robberies and assaults (in some instances resulting in deaths). If AR is to ever become mainstream, people who are too engrossed by their “reality” will fall easy prey to vicious predators.
In the future, when the technology has matured and is commonplace, drivers using the handy sat nav on their glasses will be interrupted by rogue pop-up ads, holding their entire field of vision captive. In the future, people can divorce themselves from reality by “painting over” anything they deem unpleasant. Maybe the remedy prescribed for severe antisocial behaviour will be to make everyone appear like talking pineapples. At some point, reality itself may become an indistinguishable blur.
Is the world ready for augmented reality and any unforeseen consequences that it will bring along with it? I’m not convinced, but it will be interesting to see what developments are made in coming years.