AR (augmented reality) means your rose-colored glasses aren’t just a metaphor — you’ll only encounter the world you want, the people you want. – Havens, 2013

As a person who doesn’t relish in human interaction, this seems like a rather attractive scenario. Let’s face it, people suck. Aside from helping you to avoid the endless supply of irritations involved in everyday human interaction, Lauren Drell points out in her article 7 Ways Augmented Reality Will Improve Your Life that there are plenty of other potentially life-changing applications that augmented reality technology can and is being used for (2012, http://mashable.com/2012/12/19/augmented-reality-city/).

One of Drell’s examples of the uses of augmented or virtual reality in everyday life is this Youtube video illustrating how Ikea have utilised the technology for marketing purposes. Ignore the Xzibit cameo at the start…

Basically Ikea have used the technology to turn a traditionally non-technical printed magazine into a device that your smartphone can actually scan and interact with to show more features. When you scan the page, the 3D model of the piece of furniture appears and you can interact with it on your phone. I find it really interesting the way technology has progressed to not simply trying to be different to traditional media like print media, as it may have been in the early stages of mainstream acceptance, but is actively trying to incorporate traditional media.

A few points we have been asked to consider when examining the readings for my course this week are: “If everything is going “virtual”, what does this mean? Is the virtual something new or was it there before? Are media creating new “virtual worlds”, or was the world already virtual, or both?

If you consider the Ikea example, your brain might just explode. Mine tried to, trust me. Let’s try and break it down;

“Is the virtual something new or was it there before?” – Technically, both? Maybe? When you look at pictures in a magazine, you can try to imagine what that something would look like in your house, as the smartphone app allows you to. The ‘virtual’ pieces of furniture are there in 2D on the page and in your imagination.

“Are media creating new ‘virtual worlds’, or was the world already virtual, or both?” – As Drell highlights, in 1962 a man named Morton Heilig patented what he called an “experience theatre”. Basically, he invented 3D cinema (2013, http://www.mortonheilig.com/InventorVR.html). He is known as the ‘Father of Virtual Reality’, thus suggesting that virtual worlds are not new. I for one had an issue separating the concept of virtual reality from imagination. People have had imaginations, presumably, since they developed the ability to think. To me the imagination is the ultimate in virtual reality technology – you can imagine whatever you like, whether it’s real or not and regardless of how many pixels a programmer has painstakingly attributed to it.

Answer: Both? Yes? Kind of, but not really? Virtual reality, to me, is media’s way of projecting the imagination into a digital field that can be shared much quicker and easier than trying to explain last night’s dream to someone.

 

Drell, Lauren (2012) ‘7 Ways Augmented Reality Will Improve Your Life’, Mashable, December 20, <http://mashable.com/2012/12/19/augmented-reality-city/>

Havens, John (2013) ‘The Impending Social Consequences of Augmented Reality’, Mashable, February 8, <http://mashable.com/2013/02/08/augmented-reality-future/>

MortonHeilig.com (2013) ‘Inventor In The Realm Of Virtual Reality’, http://www.mortonheilig.com/InventorVR.html

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