We live in a mirrorworld, so much so it's not readily apparent to us at first blush. Some of you experienced this new reality via innovative tech such as Pokemon Go and Google Earth, where a virtual world parallels our own streets and parks and stores. And I think this is revolutionary in a way we haven't yet fully grasped.
Why? Because augmented reality and its cousin virtual reality hasn't slipped into the mainstream as easily as other mobile tech. AR/VR can be clunky, niche and come with the baggage of "Why should I care? I don't play Pokemon." But this new platform could radically overhaul how we view physical spaces, like the above photo. Hold up a phone or tablet to a street and you can see the Yelp ratings of restaurants and retailers.
In the mirrorworld, everything could have a paired twin. That random lamppost, even, could hold a wealth of data about its history, the material used to make it, famous folks who might have taken a photo next to it. And don't think we mortal humans will be the only ones to take advantage of this AR-enabled tech. As Kevin Kelly writes in Wired magazine, "Robots will see this world. Indeed this is already the perspective from which self-driving cars and robots see the world today, that of reality fused with a virtual shadow. When a robot is finally able to walk down a busy city street, the view it will have in its silicon eyes and mind will be the mirrorworld version of that street."
In 2016, when I wrote about AR used in design and architecture, I thought this would be the Next Big Thing, coming to a design firm near you. But it's been slow going, perhaps due to the price of AR or the cold shoulder some old heads have given such a new untested tech. Still, I think AR will be a monumental movement within the tech space that will touch every aspect of our lives, at some point, whether in health-care or retail or gaming.
Many people are anxious about AR dragging us into cyberspace. But, as Kelly writes in Wired, "The great paradox is that the only way to understand how AR works is to build AR and test ourselves in it. It's weirdly recursive: The technology itself is the microscope needed to inspect the effects of the technology."
This melded mirrorworld will come with hitches, like any new tech, but I'm enthralled by the many directions it can be spun, even if AR doesn't end up as a personal touchpoint for me. I'm not in the design scene, or building auto-parts via AR-enabled tablet, but I'll still be watching this complex and weird landscape evolve, as I'm sure it will.
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