augmented reality

Augmented reality and wearable devices will be implemented to monitor and give quick feedback on daily life, especially tied to personal health.1

It seems like wearable computers have been promised for the future for years. Until Google Glass, however, the only wearable devices to appear have been digital watches that also are calculators, calendars, and – I recall fondly from nearly thirty years ago when a friend used to lend me his watch during lunch breaks at work – games. Or maybe it is just that they are the only wearable devices I have noticed. After all, if it weren’t for the fact that one of my Toastmasters friends is a Google Glass beta tester, I might not have noticed that wearable device either. As far as I know, virtual reality goggles are still just props for science fiction movies.

I have seen You Tube videos of augmented reality, like the one below.

Instead of generating enthusiasm, however, they freak me out by their appearance of facilitating stalking behavior.  My first thought after watching the video above was that in the world of the future, requesting people to remove their glasses before they enter a social event might become standard practice in order to preserve the privacy of those attending. But then I read about smart contacts designed for diabetics to monitor blood sugar levels continuously. It they are smart today, they will be able to augment reality some tomorrow. Those smart contacts are an example of what Aron Roberts, software developer at the University of California-Berkeley, was referring to when he said, “We may well see wearable devices and/or home and workplace sensors that can help us make ongoing lifestyle changes and provide early detection for disease risks, not just disease. We may literally be able to adjust both medications and lifestyle changes on a day-by-day basis or even an hour-by-hour basis, thus enormously magnifying the effectiveness of an ever more understaffed medical delivery system.”2

Daren C. Brabham, a professor at the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, University of Southern California, predicted, “We will grow accustomed to seeing the world through multiple data layers. This will change a lot of social practices, such as dating, job interviewing and professional networking, and gaming, as well as policing and espionage.”3

No kidding.

Here’s another view of augmented reality that focuses on the positive potential:

This video offers big promises for augmented reality in education since the tagging of physical objects such as newspapers, pictures, and books with video content can exponentially expand the resources that can be brought into classrooms, with students controlling when they access the additional materials instead of having to line up in rows as a teacher turns on a TV or computer with large monitor to show everyone the same video at the same time.

The children reacted to the appearance of the augmentations as if there was magic involved. And what child isn’t fascinated by magic? Perhaps I am being too pessimistic. Perhaps in five years it will not be difficult to explain to a child what is real, what is augmented, and what is fantasy. I hope so. Because if we can’t, we may find many more people being treated by psychiatrists for being unable to distinguish between reality and fantasy because what is augmented reality will have blurred the line. Or we will face an epidemic of children being manipulated by unscrupulous persons because we hadn’t taught children to distinguish between those adults they can trust and those they can’t. Or both.







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