Sunday, June 24, 2012

Augmented reality 2.0

It seems that I was previously mistaken. There are a number of groups that are implementing preliminary hardware and software for mobile and otherwise that is beginning to collapse the divide between our cyber and material worlds.

It's hard to comment on all of this stuff as I am a tad overwhelmed. Nevertheless, here are some preliminary thoughts.

For the games, I would like to see some gaming classics like PacMan get reinterpreted. It would also be nice to see someone explore the current limitations of our hardware so that we have an idea of where the boundary is in this domain. I think the explosion of excitement in this industry, though wonderful, had best be reined in. The domain is potentially infinite, but currently has some solid limitations in our hardware and software design. Rather than see programs and apps that really push the limits, I would like to see some slightly more modest but functional attempts. Take one facet of the infinite potential and develop it until it has some obvious practical usefulness. And, though I love these ideas (1 2), wearing a giant suit or helmet is... not feasible.

In this vein, I think I am following other thinkers. The importance of finding ways in which augmented reality, given its current limitations, can legitimately reinforce or support our current existence in our environments is pertinent. That is, given a camera, gps, a small screen or primitive glasses (1 2), an accelerometer and/or gyroscope, a live feed to the internet and the cloud, audio input/output, and a touch screen, what can be implemented?

The cloud offers the ability to extend our memory capacity if we can find a seamless way to 'recall' the information or begin to implement triggers (e.g., visual, auditory, etc.). If someone could find a way to integrate this with multilingualism (i.e., by having a list of common phrases, etc.), I think traveling would become much simpler.

The accelerometer and gyroscope offer an alternative to touch screens. Just hold your phone and swipe it around like a computer mouse. In fact, I'm surprised I have not seen any software implementing smartphones as UI for standard computers. Though, I have heard of other countries using it for UI more generically. And, actually, the idea of being able to graphically scan anything and have my smartphone find where I can buy it, virtually or otherwise, is certainly worth exploring.

This software has some interesting uses socially. I can see a time when people have clothing that encodes their 'avatar' (i.e., appearance) in cyberspace so that they are seen as such through AR. Subcultures, I'm sure, will be able to integrate this as an interesting form of identification. There are possible consequences here for gangs, etc.  as well as the police. On the extreme end, machines could be seen in a more anthropomorphic frame, which might have interesting repercussions for our relationships with them and we may be able to project our avatars to new places in order to send cues, or even interact with the world. Imagine your phone's 'ring tone' was the person appearing in your peripheral vision and waving at you. Interesting implications for the research I have heard on less invasive forms of human-computer interaction.

Actually, this would be an interesting way to implement some of the ideas I discussed previously. I could have it such that messages or social cues, interests, etc. are encoded right on my person (e.g., approachable, busy, single, etc.). If people start doing this with tattoos, that would certainly be fascinating. And, to forecast a future post, the ability to tag others given a particular network or context would be fascinating, too, especially with ratings.

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