Probably one of the most entertaining talks I’ve been to regarding Augmented Reality was one given at AWE2013, in Santa Clara earlier this year. The talk was by non other than SimCity creator Will Wright, and while tremendously quirky there were enough tidbits to make it informative too. Reality Sucks was the title – and boy was well scripted.
Ultimately Will’s talk carried a lot of weight. Since many of the Games he developed transformed the way in which people interact with computers (for entertainment) it was with great merit that he tackled the subject of Augmented Reality. His take was real simple, i.e. virtual reality is a form of escapism, while augmented reality is a fix. “Reality Sucks” he proclaimed and augmented reality is the first attempts to fix this. It’s all about perception and how we see the world we live in.
DOES NZ EXIST?
One of the classic moments in his talk related to NZ. He admitted he’s heard of it, seen photos, and even met people “reportedly” from there…but he’s never been. So he posed the question, does it really exist? Obviously the question is fairly rhetorical but it’s valid in what AR is trying to achieve. Just because you haven’t physically grasped something, does it mean it doesn’t exist? Using AR, are we not able to manifest new experiences and have our brain accept them as real? Why not?
DIMINISHED REALITY THE ANSWER
The idea of augmented reality being focused on increasing, or adding value to the real world is something that several people are challenging. What about if we flip that notion on its head and start to look at diminished reality as the best solution to “fixing reality”? Even Professor Steven Mann speaks of the same thing often – given the world is already so convoluted and excessive, what if we stop trying to add to it, but instead diminish, refine or even decimate certain features to make reality great!
I really like the notion Will Wright and Steve Mann put forward. It’s not the popular version of AR today, but it’s one that takes slightly more lateral thinking to manifest. I’m not suggesting augmenting (i.e. amplifying) the real world isn’t exciting – you can tell, I’m totally converted too – but I am suggesting that we look at refining what we see and narrowing down chunks of information being sent our way in order to personalize, and more importantly, contextualize, or lives.
A good example of this in action already today is you everyday GPS. It shows you a diminished version of the real world, in order to highlight directions on a virtual map. The removes buildings, trees and even advertisements, so that you can see more clearly. Now imagine taking that one step further and adding that same experience, into an augmented paradigm, and you may be able to see where Google Glass is headed – or at least where people wish it was headed.
What do you thinking…let’s augment, or lets diminish?