Divisions between the Internet and the real world are blurring as the two continue to merge.
In its early days, the Internet remained separate from the ‘real’ world and there was little overlap.
People would open up a web browser and ‘go on-line’ to check their emails, stock reports or the latest sport scores.
Now, everything seems to exist in a state of ‘always-online’ and with the advancement of augmented reality, we are seeing a massive shift in the way people are getting and interacting with information. Things have certainly changed a lot in the last ten years.
A brief history of augmented reality
Adidas make an augmented reality shoe that you clunkily control a basic video game by waving said shoe in front of a webcam. It doesn’t do anything else. People go back to checking their facebook.
Augmented reality gains a widespread following, with Google Goggles and Layar becoming popular apps for iPhone and Android devices. However, the technology remains more novel than useful.
Hundreds of augmented reality apps are developed, with the movement gaining momentum. However, the practical use of these early stage apps is still reasonably limited.
3D HD display goggles promise a more immersive Internet.
Early stage consumer heads up displays (HUDs) are trialled. Dizziness ensues.
Display technology is now dizziness-free and useful applications for the technology are developed. It is still a bit strange to see someone wearing the goggles in public but it is becoming increasingly acceptable.
Today, VR HUD glasses are as commonplace as the iPod was 10 years ago. Looking no different from ordinary sunglasses, they have become popular with everyone from teens though to stock traders. Hop onto any bus or walk down any city street and you’ll no doubt see them in use.
How the Augmented Reality glasses work
Looking much like ordinary sunglasses, the displays are available in a number of styles — from modern to vintage-inspired frames. In most new models, all of the ‘tech’ is essentially hidden.
Individual pairs of glasses are calibrated to the wearer in order to provide crisp images and a realistic three-dimensional depth experience. Intelligent sensors detect the amount of light coming through and adjust the display brightness automatically. Fingertip sensors control the action.
The display can be set to ‘Full-vision-mode’ for a full screen experience that blocks out any real world periphery. This is useful when watching a movie or playing games.
However, a more common everyday street usage is ‘Dual-mode’. This allows you to interact with apps and Internet whilst still being able to view the real world. Switching focus between the 3D overlays and the real world is much the same as wearing a pair of bifocals.
What it means for you
The real benefit here is in apps which use the 3D overlays cleverly.
Feeling hungry? See which restaurants are highest rated as you walk down the street.
Need directions? Just say where you need to go and the display will guide you there.
Travelling overseas and need a translation? Just look at text through the glasses for an instant translation.
Want to share a video with a friend? Just send it directly to their HUD glasses.
And this is only the beginning…
Of course, a major benefit of the glasses is that they allow you to virtually be in a place that you’re not really in, or indeed, several places at once. This is having massive implications for teleconferencing, working remotely, as well as staying in touch with friends and family.
It goes without saying — this is the start of something big. And as it develops further, the applications for this technology are endless.
The real question is: do we want it? Are we losing that which makes us human or are we improving upon our human ability?
Will this dilute people’s intuition and connection with the real world or serve to enhance it? Will the senses of touch, taste and smell lose prominence as visual and auditory experiences are enhanced?
Let us know what you think by commenting below.