The world is about to change in a bigger way than it did during the industrial revolution or the current digital revolution. People will gain superpowers, higher than ever IQs and merge into a strange digital realm where everything is possible. Awesome! Simultaneously we might lose whatever privacy we have left, and our lives could be owned by big, evil corporations though. Horrifying!
I’m talking about the upcoming AR – or augmented (mixed) reality – revolution. AR is the augmenting of your field of view and other senses, adding digital objects to them making them indistinguishable from real, physical things. Everything from hovering CVs on top of people’s heads to friendly digital AR assistant avatars sitting in physical chairs in front of you. Technologically this will require massive data infrastructure and some advanced coding. However, we are closer than you might expect to a digital spaceship landing on top of your physical house, casting digital shadows on top of it and kicking up some photorealistic AR roof dust. Achoo! The digital sound of the spaceship will be a part of your real-life soundscape too. You might want to take off your mixed reality glasses for a moment just to make sure you aren’t going to be probed soon.
If there's a wall you don't like?
So, if you can add or remove anything from your field of vision, where do the superpowers come in? Well, since there will be a digital twin of this physical world and real-time cameras everywhere (there are multiple cameras in just one mixed reality headset), you can pretty much decide if you want to see the virtual or the physical version of whatever it is you are looking at. For example, if there’s a wall you don’t like, you can decide to remove the wall and see through it. The visual data will come from CCTVs, other mixed reality devices, phones (if they exist anymore), car hood cameras etc. Your headset will construct a view without that annoying wall. You’ll see the actual people behind it, going about their business. “Hey, that’s John, I’ll send him an AR message!”, you might say to yourself. Suddenly, a digital bird will land on John’s shoulder and take an AR crap with what seems to read “Hey moron!” (You and made-up John like to have a bit of fun.) Or if you feel like it, you can keep the wall, but decide that it would help with your anxiety if the room would be Gucci-styled and all the people in the room were nude. The simulation will probably be very accurate, and definitely photorealistic. That might raise some eyebrows if you decide to share your reality with whomever you’re with!
If you want to get even crazier, you could move your vantage point without moving physically. You can have an “out of body experience”, fly through the floors of the building you're physically in and check the weather from the roof of the house. Again, your device will draw a photorealistic representation of your journey to the roof and the scenery as if you were actually on top of the building. Or why not go further and use satellite imagery to go even higher:
“I seem to have rocketed up somewhere over Antarctica! Come to think of it, I guess I could write this report from space! Maybe I’ll get some of those aliens to help out.”
While you're mingling with extraterrestrials, there might be a red do not disturb sign visible on top of your head to anyone looking at you in the room, so everyone will know you are somewhere far away. Anyone can still leave an AR message to you; for example, an AR representation of them floating by your field of view asking for advice when you’re available again.
[This is a glimpse of the AR revolution to come. In the next part of this blog series, I’ll discuss how this revolution might radically alter your IQ – and advertising as we know it.]
The writer is the Chief Creative Officer at Avidly, has a background in the startup world – and lectures about creativity, wolverines, love and the future. Mail firstname.lastname@example.org if you dare!