Future implementations of AR

Introduction

Time not spent studying, working, having a blast or doing anything concrete at all, do most of the time look basically like this for me:

I like to think, and I think a lot. Most of the time I find myself coming up with pretty cool things just thinking, I don’t need to read about an idea to come up with one. Or maybe I actually have read about something similar – just not on that given moment. I think “thinking” is highly underestimated in relation to “doing”. In this day and age it feels like there’s some kind of cosmic pressure in the atmosphere that makes us more inclined to do things, rather than thinking about what we actually do. And to me, thinking is an absolute necessity to be able to do anything meaningful with what I learn. This because that the given context that you read about something in, may not be the best place to implement that particular idea – and the only way to connect the dots between your current knowledge (on multiple levels of conscience) and your future knowledge (what you read, hear, see) – is to think.

This brings me back to an old interview with Ian Anderson – The designers republic, a design studio that has had a lot of impact on myself (and possibly most notably known for the graphic design for the early WipEout games), where he highlighted this phenomenon in one simple sentence, as response to a question that asked what implications all this information we have today has had on designers:

“too much information — not enough understanding”, Ian Anderson in Design Boom

This really says it all.

Its hard to stick to something and truly get to know it – understand it, if you wake up the next day and all of sudden there seems to be something new that’s lurking around the corner that seems even better than the last solution you found for whatever you want to do. This is especially true if your life allows you to be in a sort of reflective state, with no pressure fulfilling production goals on a day-to-day basis. I am very binary between these states. I can be either/or but not both. And the downtime going from one to the other is pretty lengthy for me. I imagine its basically the same for everyone, and that all of us exist in one of these stages basically all our lives. There are people that work and work, without ever reflecting on why, and there are other people that seem to do nothing but reflecting – never to be able to choose a direction and take on anything at all.

 

What I’m up to

I am now in a mostly reflective state, but it doesn’t stop me from being productive, just not as productive as when I am in the producing state of mind. And as such, I have given myself the opportunity to thinking up ideas. Sometimes I realize them, sometimes I don’t. When I don’t it’s either because it ends up being too complex to make something meaningful out of it from the time I have at my hands, or because it feels arbitrary meaningless to pursuit.

This semi-productive state does however take me through many ideas. Design concepts, never realized. And as such it may make sense to write about them. Where someone else, that feels capable of making something out of it is free to take them and do whatever. This post specifically is going to be about an AR idea that I got when watching a videon on Chinas mass surveillance, point system-thingy that they are halfway implementing into their society.


More reflections on the video itself can be found on my facebook page

This whole project though, where you essentially can identify anyone that “misbehaves” and give them points accordingly – which makes them become flagged as either good or bad citizens with different opportunities in life, may seem scary – but there’s actually fans of it. Eg. the good citizens; those who can take advantage in convenience. And to me, this future doesn’t seem too far off here either, just that it will be introduced in a way that increases value, rather than taking away what is already there. With time it will most likely increase value so much that it seems irrational to stay out of it, not to unlike the smartphone industry:

It’s already known that google fetch a heck of a lot of data from android users, and two of the most common reasons that people put up with is either because it makes the software free (cheap in the consumer end) or because it makes their lives easier. There’s value for the end user in giving up data, and it may indeed seem like a reasonable sacrifice for increased productivity or quality of life.

 

Why does it say AR in the headline when you don’t talk about it?

One of the technologies driving this reality will most likely be AR (Augmented Reality). For those who don’t know what that is, it’s basically the concept of taking a virtual reality and putting it on top of actual reality, Pokemon GO being a prime example of this. However the next level of AR won’t be a one way interaction with a phone/glasses and reality, but rather a synergistic interaction where reality and virtual sends feedback to one another.

For example: Visualize an assistant that you could always carry with you. An assistant that exists and knows your preferences and that can show up in the shape of a hologram/person of your choosing. An assistant that knows exactly who you want to be – with the little niggle that assistant is working for commercial interests. The assistant may be run by Google or whatever the company may be, and it may be a service that HM, IKEA, Sears and the likes can buy into. The assistants job will in that case be to make you buy more, by recommending exactly what you want. But not in an advertising way, but rather as acting like a friend that guides you through – that helps you find what you like, the right size and also helps you visualize how the clothes would look on you.

This may seem sci-fi-y, but even with current technology something in this direction would be possible. However the technology is too expensive and too cumbersome at the moment, as well as that it’s all to expensive to produce this kind of content to make it profitable. Progress in AI is a necessary step, where sound driven facial animation and next-level machine learning for user preferences are already in development.

And while an idea like this may seem exciting, and very much convenient for the end user, it’s inevitable to face some ethical implications. Such as how real a “virtual friend” should be and to what extent its reasonable for commercial interests to take advantage of this. Personally I do think there’s both good and bad outcomes of this development. In this particular implementation case – not so good, but in other cases, such as learning or sports, it would be great to have a virtual friend/coach that helped you develop to the limits of your own capabilities.

I do however feel that development itself is inevitable as there’s too much excitement around it. Now, what’s missing is to actually understand what we’re dealing with and implement in a way that will lead to positive impact on the world, rather than just heading into a direction hoping (not knowing) that we’re on the right path.

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