AUGMENTED REALITY: Evolving into a highly transparent society
EARLIER this year I discussed the developments of SixthSense technology, which, in a nutshell, is the idea of wearing a gestural interface that augments the physical world with digital information and lets us use natural hand gestures to interact with that information.
In other words, having a mirror, pocket projector, camera and a cellphone connected to web on your person, would allow the world around us to become like a computer displaying certain information and performing particular tasks on request. Making a viewing box using your fingers and thumbs, for example, would take a photograph in a SixthSense world.
Such developments have been in progress since the beginning of this year. However, these have also been met with serious debates over people’s personal privacy and raised more than a few concerns.
It’s difficult to say if and how (or perhaps more importantly, when) such technology will enter society and become a part of our daily lives (at least for the digital elite with large bank balances). Nevertheless, several concept ideas are emerging to give us an idea of what living with such technology may be like.
A concept investigation
Below are some concept designs that Matthew Buckland and ace designer Philip Langley put their heads together to create. It’s an investigation into how social networking may work in the future, focusing on mobile and augmented reality.
“Our investigations were inspired in particular by some brilliant (AR) concept drawings, which I often use in presentations I give,” said Buckland on his blog.
“After some brainstorming and quite a few mockups, we came up with the below. Admittedly, augmented reality (AR) is the new hype, but you can see how valuable (and scary) this could be when applied to a social networking paradigm. It assumes amazing resolutions, facial and object recognition, and more accurate GPS — none of these far off.” — Matthew Buckland.
Imagine holding up your phone or other digital device against a person you’ve just met or passed by. You’d instantly have information returned about that person within seconds, gleaned from an automatic web, public profile and social network search.
You’d discover common friends, talking points — and then have the ability to add him or her to your network. Using a semantic scan, you’d discover negative or positive comments on Google or elsewhere relating to this individual. It would be instant insight into the guy or girl standing right in front of you.
Databases and directories
Discover who lives where and how you are connected; then phone them, e-mail them, add them to your network right then and there. Get other news about the suburb and other socio-economic information. If they’re part of your network, what are they saying about their suburb or the best pizza joint in the area?
You’d be able to hold up your phone in a crowded room and work out who is connected to whom. You could instantly gauge your primary and secondary networks and instantly work out who you should chat to, what the conversation points are, and perhaps who you should avoid.
Where are the cliques? Who’s an outsider in the crowd? What’s the buzz? We’ll never forget a person’s name again, suggests Buckland.
Goodbye to privacy?
“Privacy is already an issue of concern, now and for our digital future, says Buckland. We’re still working out the ethical and moral framework around this. We may even see a backlash from society angry at this intrusion. It may, however, end up being okay because you will (mostly) be in control — you could refuse access to SNs, don’t tweet, assume personas etc.”
“But there will be information about you that you won’t be able to control too. There’ll be inevitable abuse and misuse of the information, which [will hopefully] be manageable.”
“However, more importantly — from a privacy perspective — almost everyone will be in the same boat more or less. We may evolve into a society that’s highly transparent and accountable. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry …”
IMAGES: Matthew Buckland and Philip Langley
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