Future illusions of reality, part 1

I was having a conversation about Augmented Reality yesterday evening with my colleague Steve Feiner, who is one of the great pioneers of AR research. We were discussing changes in human perception that will accompany the coming age of wearables. In particular, we were debating whether those changes will be fundamentally different from the changes that have accompanied earlier technologies.

We both agreed that when wearable technology becomes mature, we will find ourselves seeing 3D objects in the world around us that are not actually there — other than in our perception. The debate centered around whether this difference between perception and reality will be fundamentally different from those provided by previous sensory interfaces that “defy reality”, such as, for example, the telephone or television or Skype.

Steve argued that the implications of the sensory illusions made possible by coming wearables would indeed be fundamentally different from the implications of previous sensory illusions. I argued that there was no fundamental difference — that in fact all such differences are determined by cultural forces and constraints, rather than by the nature of any specific technology.

I realize that this all may sound highly theoretical. But when we got down to cases, the discussion got interesting.

More tomorrow.

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