Thinking About Our Future With Augmented Reality

There has been a lot of talk about "Wearable Devices" lately. The focus is always on making "life simpler" with these future devices.

When I stumbled over a video shared by John Gruber on Daring Fireball, I couldn't help myself but to think of a video I had seen more than a year ago.

As Gruber says:

"Heads-up displays and augmented reality are coming, no doubt."

I can't agree more, obviously. With Google Glass trying to find its way onto our heads and smart contact lenses beginning to appear/exist as well, it's only a question of time before people will be able to use them publicly.

The question of privacy, security, and how much you actually share with others will always be questionable, but that's all up to you – always!

On The Infinity Augmented Reality Concept Video

The first question I always asked myself was that I thought that it was strange that everyone would want to wear glasses all of a sudden (again – I know it was a hipster style choice some time ago). I completely understand the fact that this is how you would display information to yourself only, but really, do we need this? It's bad enough to keep looking at your phone when talking to somebody. It'll be even worse when you're looking someone in the eye and you can't be sure if the person is actually looking back at you.

People with glasses have to live with the fact that they need their glasses to see who they're talking to. With Augmented Reality glasses it's the complete opposite. You don't actually use these glasses to look at the person, but to look through them. While one is happy to put the glasses down to prevent a headache from constantly wearing them, the other takes the risk of getting a headache because he can't put the glasses down anymore.

I have to be honest and tell you that I find some aspects of this video (and such a future) interesting, but only to a certain extent. Some of those things can be achieved with something like Siri in some way (getting the weather for the day with a prediction of rain, or asking for directions). There are even apps that show you your wardrobe.

The first real life task the glasses help you with is driving. But here's my concern. When driving, you should be focusing on the road and on your driving, and not fully rely on a computer telling you what to do. I see the benefit of having it analyze the road for you and telling you that a street is blocked, or a vehicle in front of you is braking, but what if the system fails to alert you soon enough? You depend on it for telling you what to do after some time. You get lazy while driving and your concentration diminishes, and the moment you need to brake abruptly, your reaction isn't sufficient to prevent an accident (I understand that this can happen at any time, but as I mentioned before, once you get used to this secure system that alerts you, you get lazy).

Next on the list, the "Pool Hall Challenge". I don't want to rant and/or get into the aspect of actually cheating, or having an opponent who also uses glasses to think through every possible shot (where's the fun in that anyway?). I would prefer to mention that - as you can see in the video - the percentage of where the balls go when taking your shot is completely irrelevant if you can't control the force with which you'll hit the balls and where you'll hit the cue ball (the white one). It's nice for your inner geek to see what's possible and how you could score, the chances are higher though that you'll lose against your opponent who knows how to play.

Next up, the creepy part (I'll get to why it's creepy soon). It can be fascinating and is already possible to have facial recognition go through pictures and find your face on your Facebook page or somewhere else online (I also won't go into any privacy details – especially not concerning Facebook). Using the details you can read on someone's page, recognize the emotions you can hear in someone's voice, or look for hints about someone on the way they dress etc., is all possible with enough training or knowledge. The way it is pictured in this video, seems a little creepy though.
Also not exchanging any contact details after confirming a date may also hint to someone avoiding further contact. The reason it all seems a little weird is because moments later, the bartender gets a friend request on Facebook. Of course both of them want the contact, exchange some messages and meet.
Thinking about the way it all worked out, you can also look at it from a completely different perspective. All the details he knew about her, could seem like he stalked her from the moment he first saw her.

There's one thing I really dislike about this whole concept though – the constant integration with social networks. I really don't like the way the video is focused on integrating Facebook into your life. I especially don't like how it's focused on finding out a little too much about a person you would like to know better. A person can share as much as he or she wants online, but some things can be discovered even if you don't intend to share them. Isn't it much more beautiful to get to know someone by asking them personally?

There is a huge difference between sharing some moments with your friends/followers, playing games together and challenging your opponents with your latest achievements, or constantly opening up to the world and laying bare your personal information. One may easily lose focus on what's too much.

On Sight, A Short Futuristic Film

And now to this futuristic short film which was a graduation project, called "Sight" (you cannot really compare this one to the Infinity AR video, but they pursue the same concept of approaching everyday life differently – slight spoiler: This video is a short film, meaning that it has a plot with an ending. It's fiction!).

As mentioned, both videos have a similar approach – use things you do every day and make them "simpler". In this case by showing you details about your refrigerator, followed by preparing food in a playful way (at least in this video it doesn't prompt you to share your achievements on Facebook).

Without going into every detail of this video, the focal point is again on dating someone and using Augmented Reality to "score more points" – this time in real life, but also in a game using a virtual app. The "user" gets a lot of help from analysis again and is confused when "the date" mentions a personal detail she didn't put on her profile.

As the night goes on …
You should better just see for yourself. I wouldn't want to spoil the ending, after all it's a film. Don't worry, it's safe for work.

I know that everybody thinks different about these devices and about how our future will turn out to be, but I think we can all agree that we still have a choice about how much information we're willing to share with others online.
There's nothing wrong about sharing personal things with others. You just need to think about what it is you're sharing. You could even share your address online, who cares? If someone really wants to find you (shouldn't sound as creepy as it does), they will.

What's way more important is to think about your actions before you're taking them.