Wednesday, October 12, 2011

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Cool Augmented Reality Demo Makes Me Think About the Future of Virtual Worlds

This is a cool and fun speculative video showing how augmented reality may shape the future of gaming and physical exercise, specifically martial arts. Because if there's one thing that needs augmenting, dude, it's kung fu:

The video assumes the augmented reality aspect will come from digital contact lenses, which I'm guessing is about 10 years away. But you could get the same action from digital displays embedded in eyeglasses, and I'd speculate it's possible those could be mass market in less than 5 years.

Augmented Reality kung fuNow here's the part that makes me think about virtual worlds: What if it wasn't just the kung fu guys who were augmented? What if the nearby trees were overlaid with a display that made them seem like, say, robot guards, or tall marble pillars? And the dirt path were made to seem like cobblestone leading to a castle (which was actually just an old water tower)? Then the entire experience would become an alternate virtual world overlaid with ours. And all things considered, what with it being out in the open air requiring lots of running and jumping, wouldn't that be a better future of virtual worlds, as opposed to sitting somewhere dark and inside, staring at an unmoving screen?

Hat tip: Gary Hayes.

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Emperor Norton

This raises several questions:

What kind of soon to be blind idiot would wear contact leans in a full contact sport?

Do people enjoy losing sparing matches enough they would look that the cool 3d enhanced scenery and not at the guy trying to punch them in the face?

Who is the nerdy dork who thinks getting punched in the face isn't exciting enough that is need special effects?

Arcadia Codesmith

I think ten years is hopelessly optimistic for digital contacts.

But I think they could launch wireless specs any time, if the market is there.

I don't know if kung fu is the killer app, but the Society for Creative Ananchronism and Live-Action RolePlaying groups would love what Hamlet's describing.

But for anything approaching mass market adoption (and economy of scale prices), you're going to have to cobble together a wide range of potential users; geocachers, historical reinactors, tourists, joggers, paintballers, heck, maybe even forensic investigators and police/military trainers.

I'm certainly in favor of seeing this technology mature and flourish, but as an adjunct to existing virtual worlds, not a replacement. Older gamers like myself are not always up for a RL bout :)

Extropia DaSilva

Hamlet should read 'Rainbows End' by Vernor Vinge, which imagines just the kind of augmented-realities he talked about here. I reckon he would like that novel.

Anyway, this AR would certainly bring new meaning to Obi-Wan's advice 'your eyes can deceive you; don't trust them'.

Dizzy Banjo

Bring it on !! :) we can start making steps in these directions today, I really hope to be involved with as many projects that do as possible over the coming years.

The Vernor Vinge 'Zones of Thought' series are on my list Extropia, I keep hearing good things about them, from many interesting people - including you!

Halting State by Charles Stross is a great book for this kind of thing too.

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