Tag Archives: augmented reality

Augmented evidence. It’s a logical trajectory.

A few weeks ago I gushed about how my students killed it at a recent guerrilla future enactment on a ubiquitous Augmented Reality (AR) future. Shortly after that, Mark Zuckerberg announced the Facebook AR platform. The AR uses the camera on your smartphone, and according to a recent WIRED article, transforms your smartphone into an AR engine.

Unfortunately, as we all know, (and so does Zuck), the smartphone isn’t currently much of an engine. AR requires a lot of processing, and so does the AI that allows it to recognize the real world so it can layer additional information on top of it. That’s why Facebook (and others), are building their own neural network chips so that the platform doesn’t have to run to the Cloud to access the processing required for Artificial Intelligence (AI). That will inevitably happen which will make the smartphone experience more seamless, but that’s just part the challenge for Facebook.

If you add to that the idea that we become even more dependent on looking at our phones while we are walking or worse, driving, (think Pokemon GO), then this latest announcement is, at best, foreshadowing.

As the WIRED article continues, tech writer Brian Barrett talked to Blair MacIntyre, from Georgia Tech who says,

“The phone has generally sucked for AR because holding it up and looking through it is tiring, awkward, inconvenient, and socially unacceptable,” says MacIntyre. Adding more of it doesn’t solve those issues. It exacerbates them. (The exception might be the social acceptability part; as MacIntyre notes, selfies were awkward until they weren’t.)”

That last part is an especially interesting point. I’ll have to come back to that in another post.

My students did considerable research on exactly this kind of early infancy that technologies undergo on their road to ubiquity. In another WIRED article, even Zuckerberg admitted,

“We all know where we want this to get eventually,” said Zuckerberg in his keynote. “We want glasses, or eventually contact lenses, that look and feel normal, but that let us overlay all kinds of information and digital objects on top of the real world.”

So there you have it. Glasses are the end game, but as my students agreed, contact lenses not so much. Think about it. If you didn’t have to stick a contact lens in your eyeball, you wouldn’t and the idea that they could become ubiquitous (even if you solved the problem of computing inside a wafer thin lens and the myriad of problems with heat, and in-eye-time), they are much farther away, if ever.

Student design team from Ohio State’s Collaborative Studio.

This is why I find my student’s solution so much more elegant and a far more logical trajectory. According to Barrett,

“The optimistic timeline for that sort of tech, though, stretches out to five or 10 years. In the meantime, then, an imperfect solution takes the stage.”

My students locked it down to seven years.

Finally, Zuckerberg made this statement:

“Augmented reality is going to help us mix the digital and physical in all new ways,” said Zuckerberg at F8. “And that’s going to make our physical reality better.”

Except that Zuck’s version of better and mine or yours may not be the same. Exactly what is wrong with reality anyway?

If you want to see the full-blown presentation of what my students produced, you can view it at aughumana.net.

Note: Currently the AugHumana experience is superior on Google Chrome.  If you are a Safari or Firefox purest, you may have to wait for the page to load (up to 2 minutes). We’re working on this. So, just use Chrome this time. We hope to have it fixed soon.

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Disruption. Part 1

 

We often associate the term disruption with a snag in our phone, internet or other infrastructure service, but there is a larger sense of the expression. Technological disruption refers the to phenomenon that occurs when innovation, “…significantly alters the way that businesses operate. A disruptive technology may force companies to alter the way that they approach their business, risk losing market share or risk becoming irrelevant.”1

Some track the idea as far back as Karl Marx who influenced economist Joseph Schumpeter to coin the term “creative destruction” in 1942.2 Schumpeter described that as the “process of industrial mutation that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one.” But it was, “Clayton M. Christensen, a Harvard Business School professor, that described it’s current framework. “…a disruptive technology is a new emerging technology that unexpectedly displaces an established one.”3

OK, so much for the history lesson. How does this affect us? Historical examples of technological disruption go back to the railroads, and the mass produced automobile, technologies that changed the world. Today we can point to the Internet as possibly this century’s most transformative technology to date. However, we can’t ignore the smartphone, barely ten years old which has brought together a host of converging technologies substantially eliminating the need for the calculator, the dictaphone, land lines, the GPS box that you used to put on your dashboard, still and video cameras, and possibly your privacy. With the proliferation of apps within the smartphone platform, there are hundreds if not thousands of other “services” that now do work that we had previously done by other means. But hold on to your hat. Technological disruption is just getting started. For the next round, we will see an increasingly pervasive Internet of Things (IoT), advanced robotics, exponential growth in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning, ubiquitous Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), Blockchain systems, precise genetic engineering, and advanced renewable energy systems. Some of these such as Blockchain Systems will have potentially cataclysmic effects on business. Widespread adoption of blockchain systems that enable digital money would eliminate the need for banks, credit card companies, and currency of all forms. How’s that for disruptive? Other innovations will just continue to transform us and our behaviors. Over the next few weeks, I will discuss some of these potential disruptions and their unique characteristics.

Do you have any you would like to add?

1 http://www.investopedia.com/terms/d/disruptive-technology.asp#ixzz4ZKwSDIbm

2 http://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/creativedestruction.asp

3 http://www.intelligenthq.com/technology/12-disruptive-technologies/

See also: Disruptive technologies: Catching the wave, Journal of Product Innovation Management, Volume 13, Issue 1, 1996, Pages 75-76, ISSN 0737-6782, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/0737-6782(96)81091-5.
(http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0737678296810915)

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The long litany of new and improved.

Artifact from the future.

Ed. note: I define an artifact from the future as something you might bring back as evidence that you were there. A sort of proof of what it is and what is there. Think Rod Taylor and the flower from The Time Machine.

 

Closing excerpts from a journal found in 2101.

I was born on this day in 1990. Somehow it seems as though my 111th birthday would be more auspicious, more cherished, more celebratory. They tell me I can live forever if I want. But the question that burns into my brain is, “Why?” What is left? What is there here that I should look forward too?

When I was a boy, before the surge, I remember  looking forward to going to the ocean. The trip couldn’t come soon enough and the days seemed like years until finally we would go. We would drive in a car, my parents and I, and I would stand there with my feet in the wet sand and feel the warm water lap at my toes. Perhaps it was the waiting that made it all so meaningful. We don’t wait anymore. We don’t have to. If I want the ocean to circle around my ankles and feel my feet sink into the soft, supple sand, I have only to plug-in. I can smell it, feel it, hear it, and see it. If I want, I can even dip my finger into the water and experience that unmistakably  intense saltiness. When I’m ready to come back, I simply unplug. I think that it is the ocean, but I know that it is not. I don’t have to wait for it.

Already I’ve had 3 organ replacements, grown from my own DNA, I’ve spent thousands upon thousands of hours in the V; the virtual world we have created out of our own fantasies, dreams and perversions. Nothing is real there, and there is no waiting. The crimes I have committed there are harmless they tell me, even therapeutic. It keeps us docile in the real world. But I think there is damage. I know there is.  It goes beyond the virtual. It wreaks havoc in my soul. People don’t believe in souls anymore. They don’t have to. If you never die, what’s the difference?

My avatar tells me that death is the final frontier the one thing you can’t experience in the V.

Soon I will know for certain. Here is my plan: It’s difficult to gain access to the mag train tunnel, but I’ve found a way in. They say that when a mag train hits you at 700 miles an hour you vaporize. I kind of like the thought of that.

There’s really no one to say goodbye to. If anyone wishes to pursue the vapor trail to me, my memories and persona are in the vault at the IABank on Prosser Strasse. My account number is #459LK077JE28977. If anyone wants to know.

Good luck with all this.

Alphonse

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In the future, synthetic humans are as common as automobiles today.

Don’t lie, wouldn’t it be fun to kick the tires?

In a previous blog, I posted a rambling essay on roboethics and the misuse of synths. However, in the world of The Lightstream Chronicles, most synths are used well within the limits of the law and those like Marie and Toei are almost ubiquitous. As we can see in page 79, Lee Chen’s houseboy is a synth, and a masseuse. People in the 22nd century look at synths the way people in the 21st century looked at cars. The wealthier you are the more likely you are to have more than one synth and probably more sophisticated in their design and feature set. Those in the lower income brackets might have an older or more basic model. You might even find those who are strapped for New Asia credits to be doing their own synth repairs and cobbling together parts from scrap or other models.

The average future family has one synth, like Marie, usually a domestic who doubles as a nanny, cooks cleans, and handles a variety of household chores. The price for a domestic synth varies based upon what the unit is capable of doing. Slightly analogous to the smart phone of the 21st century, the feature set of a synth can be augmented or uploaded with apps, called scripps, that could include features such as language proficiency, and levels of expertise such as in medicine or music. Scripps are moderately priced, but based on the model there are limitations to scripp memory. Special functions such as sex organs are another optional feature.

There is also a booming business in synth companions. At the top of the line are recent improvements on nearly human characteristics such as those present in Keiji-T. Keiji’s T-Class designation is, of course, reserved for the police force, however the domestic counterpart would be an H-Class. This class of synth can also be modeled to a near-exact visual duplicate grown from its owners DNA.

Synths can also be built to resemble any species or even combination of species. Nearly half of all domestic pets are synthetic. Popular cross-species varieties are Homo sapiens crossed with Canis Lupus Familiaris, Reptilia, Felidae, Ursidae, and Delphinidae. Many of these blends can also be done in the lab combining human DNA though the variations are considerably fewer.

 

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A graphic novel about culture, design and transhumanism in the future

And you thought this blog was about writing a graphic novel.

Anyway, I’ve just returned from holiday, I have been virtually free from the computer for nearly a week. I finished two books, started a third, and did a lot of mental tweaking to my story.

Without tipping my hand (too far) to the plot of my graphic novel (since it is not 100% solidified), I can say that it has always dealt with ramifications and implications of a somewhat transhumanist future, a world where scientism rules the day. As the prologue to my screenplay states, “Scientific advances have enabled the manufacture of life-like robots. Known as synthetics, these robots are found in all walks of life and can be virtually indistinguishable from humans.” Some of my key characters fit this description and even my humans are considerably augmented, enhanced and amplified.

While my story includes a fair amount of mystery and action, I never intended the read to be one dimensional. I hope to thread some thought-provoking themes and opposing ideas into the mix. This is especially relevant in lieu of the fact that my paper, the whole design fiction aspect of this project, is an examination of the design culture relationship. What we design will affect our culture and vice versa. What happens when we are able to design and create near-humans? What will we teach them? How will we use them? What capabilities should they have or not have? What will separate our future, synthetically augmented human sons and daughters from their purely synthetic counterparts? What role will ethics play in this future drama? After all, there is no science to ethics.

Meanwhile, all of these questions seem to be surfacing around me in our current cultural environment as we see a flurry of discussion about Kurzweil’s optimistic singularity and Vernor Vinge’s less than optimistic predictions of that same technology gone astray. In fact, Kurzweil has even enlisted Michio Kaku, Deepak Chopra and a host of other “thinkers” and, of course the mandatory celebrities (no doubt for their scientific insight) for a live discussion on the topic that will be coming to a theater near you.

I guess this means my novel is timely.

I’ve also done some additional thinking on stylistic texture and setting, especially in light of the fact that recent press releases have put the locale for the upcoming screen adaptation of Akira in “New Manhattan”. Hmmm.

More on that later.

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