Apr 082010
 
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What happens when the content cloud descends? Rocket science or people science?

Here is a really simple metaphor to illustrate the pervasiveness and societal significance of Augmented Reality. For the past 20 years humanity has been ‘floating’ its content (its personas, its information, life data, economy and social media) creating a distant, electronic cloud drifting, conceptually, way up above us. A cloud that is only reachable when we area able to connect to it via a variety of fixed and mobile ‘information’ screens, themselves connected to a veritable wormhole aka the global internet. (In reality hundreds of thousands of servers murmuring around the world with billions connected via hard wiring to receive richer media & experiences).

Up until now this ‘content cloud’ (different to cloud computing) has been abstractly disconnected from our physical lives – we read news about California earthquakes sitting in Australia, we view videos on the train of a concert three weeks ago at a local venue, we have personal social networks fragmented across time and space, play a game set in Hong Kong on a screen in London, Facebook groups comprised of half friended, remote avatars (the extended self ). 99% of the content in the cloud is not relevant to here and now (although a philosophical moot point if the now ‘is’ the participation and consumption itself?!)

In a near AR future, non geo-sensitive content will be perceived as incomplete

The Descending Cloud

But that cloud, has reached saturation, it no longer can keep afloat, there is just too much or rather just enough content to be temporally and geographically relevant. In other words there is so much ‘stuff’ up there that it now makes sense to access it, in a true Web 3.0 way, in real time, the present moment from anywhere you are. It will at its simplest level be Google Earth, slowly morphing out of your PC screen, growing to global scale and locking into place over the real world or Facebook mapping itself onto the billion users faces out in the street, advertisers reaching out to where ever you are, personalizing your everyday life with relevancy vs noise.

The always on cloud has now become very useful to a range of stakeholders. Marketeers, storytellers & users alike. Mists of information, media and experiences will engulf onto our cities and physical infrastructure, it will become a persistent fog that will coat everything in its path with layers of time and place stamped content. It will create a web of layers, of parallel narratives and realities and enhance our experiences.

OK fluffy intro over and this leads to some high level areas of a ‘consultancy’ whitepaper I did mid last year (which annoyingly I still can’t publish) but some key themes are explored below.

What does this mean on the ground, a ground covered in this fog of information. The transformative effect of our physical world being invaded by ‘cyberspace’ will make the current discussions about social network privacy seem like a children’s party. When the ‘web’ spreads into and permeates our real world will their be any hiding places. As portable screens become practical (think iPad with camera), pervasive wearable computing becomes commonplace and surveillance technology evolves to being ubiquitous and transparent – society will evolve way ahead of government and law, who powerless to stop the flow of information on connected screens will be even more powerless to stop this flow moving into real space?

“Augmented reality allows people to visualize cyberspace as an integral part of the physical world that surrounds them, effectively making the real world clickable and linked,” says Dr. Paul E. Jacobs, chairman and CEO of Qualcomm.

The videos below might give them ‘digital’ food for thought.

Beware: I would like to point out everything below has already happened or about to launch in the next few months.

FIRSTLY – RECENT VISIONS OF THE DESCENDING CLOUD

From Eyetap.org (a wearable computing lab in Toronto) – “Stewart Morgan discusses Architecture of Information on the show Daily Planet. It is a visionary short film showing augmented reality, and the implications of it’s applications.” From 2007

THE PERSONAL CLOUD

What kind of society will it be when our personal profiles, details and content are available to anyone in the street simply by scanning our face. That person across the train carriage, are they really playing an iPhone game or finding out ‘everything’ about you, well at least that which you have placed on the open web? A short video that will shock forward thinkers…

PERSONALIZED MOMENT & MOVEMENT AUGMENTED MARKETING

Straight from one of my talks in early 2000 about how various sci-fi authors, Speilberg’s Minority Report film or others like Gattaca might be the ultimate personalization but I didn’t think then we would be less than 10 years away from early street ready prototypes. This example is almost suitable for an alternate reality game, faux corporate company doing ‘bad’ things to society but no, it is real. Check out the Sarnoff Corp site and this video.

A SOCIETY WHERE THERE IS NO HIDING PLACE

Geocaching linked to the cloud means anyone active in the cloud is traceable. Applications can detect who and where you are – at first it may be to within tens of meters, eventually to within centimeters. The phrase ‘to go dark’ will be something all of us may have to consider in the very near future?

WHERE OUR ENTERTAINMENT EXPERIENCES ARE AROUND US AND IN REAL TIME

I have covered this in a few past posts (eg New Playgrounds Augmented Reality Story Worlds) but the desire to be non-passive is much stronger in younger demographics and their entertainment will be much more social, pervasive and game like. Why watch someone else being the investigator, when you can ‘live’ it for yourself? Ghostwire.

AN AUGMENTED WORLD WHERE ALL YOU DO IS TRACKED AS PART OF A LIFE LOYALTY SYSTEM

A sobering talk from Jesse Schell at a TED conference recently, When Games Invade Real Life (which is more about when technology or the cloud itself invades real life)

Games are invading the real world — and the runaway popularity of Farmville and Guitar Hero is just the beginning, says Jesse Schell. At the DICE Summit, he makes a startling prediction: a future where 1-ups and experience points break “out of the box” and into every part of our daily lives.

WHERE AUGMENTED JUST DOESN’T MEAN – STUFF ON A SCREEN BUT TRULY TOUCHES YOU

Augmented reality puts the squeeze into virtual hugs

For now, his prototype robot is a collection of sensors, small motors, vibrators and speakers woven into a series of straps similar to a parachute harness, minus the parachute. Connected to a computer, the device can simulate several types of heart beat, a realistic hug, the tickling sensation of a butterfly stomach, and a tingling feeling along the spine. It can also generate warmth.

and the screen itself extends out into the real world – Sixth Sense

WHEN OUR LIVES WILL DEPEND ON AUGMENTED REALITY SURGERY

Things have moved on immensely since the early trials and now remote surgery or diagnosis will become dependent on advanced AR technology. Is it something we could become over reliant on?

WHEN EVERY PIECE OF TECHNOLOGY IS AUGMENTED REALITY CAPABLE

Every new smart mobile device brings with it the question – is it truly portable? is it connected? does it have a camera? will it run Augmented Reality apps?

A WORLD WHERE WE LEARN USING LAYERS OF ENHANCEMENTS

Education is already benefitting from the remote cloud. What will it mean when they can layer that information over real space, will it bring it to life, be temporary and superficial or become the new way to learn. Physically with all knowledge available as on overlay?

WHEN AUGMENTED REALITY PERVADES OUR MOST POPULAR MEDIA FORMS

Landmark games such as Heavy Rain utilise for one of it’s investigative characters almost real world AR capability and introduces another million or so to its potential. Thanks Tom Carpenter for video

A WORLD WHERE PHYSICAL SPACE AND SEARCH ARE INEXTRICABLY INTERTWINED

And the biggest search engine on the planet takes over our towns and cities, linking physical shapes with the cloud – Google Goggles anyone?

A WORLD WHERE THE WORLD ITSELF IS REPLACED BY THE BAD CLOUD

“The latter half of the 20th century saw the built environment merged with media space, and architecture taking on new roles related to branding, image and consumerism. Augmented reality may recontextualise the functions of consumerism and architecture, and change in the way in which we operate within it.”

A WORLD WHERE THE WORLD ITSELF IS REPLACED BY THE GOOD CLOUD

Although conceptual this ability to track real world objects and overlay them with ‘alternates’ (in the video below) has been around for a few years, the big difference now is your iPad, DSi, PSP or camera equipped smart phone can do it. The cloud descending doesn’t mean information overload as the previous video suggests, it could mean ‘magical realism’ (that oh so trendy new film genre) is part of all our lives. Thanks to Jennifer Wilson for pointing me at this a few weeks ago.

So the videos above are just the tip of the iceberg, or rather to not mix metaphors, the bottom of the descending cloud. I have deliberately kept away in this post from the ‘cool’ augmented reality apps that are being jumped on by marketeers and flailing heritage media companies but tried to show apps that have a deliberate resonance with the cloud. Whether educational, personal, utility or lifestyle the effects of the first edges of the cloud touching our world are extremely portentous. I would imagine no one can sit on the fence, if they do they might not notice the fence itself become virtual. The profound shift as the matrix bursts it banks will provoke rushed regulation and lame legislation. No one organisation will be equipped enough to see through the fog as this cloud descends, do you have your ‘visibility’ goggles ready?

UPDATE: Almost forgot. I will be part of a three speaker panel on AR at Sydney’s Byteside event on Tues 13th April – more info here.

The Tech Show – Augmented Reality
Fusing digital data with the real world via smart devices, the future of augmented reality is certain to play a huge role in our everyday lives. From car GPS devices that paint directions on real world imagery, to mobility applications to enhance social life and gaming. This is the future, and it’s upon us now.

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  24 Responses to “Descending Clouds – Society and Augmented Reality 101”

  1. Bring. It. On. Fantastic post Gary.
    .-= Marigo Raftopoulos´s last blog ..Saving the World, one gamer at a time =-.

  2. AR Overview: Descending Clouds : Society and Augmented Reality 101 http://twurl.nl/hi1v3w #camar #ar

  3. RT @wwoo_ct: AR Overview: Descending Clouds : Society and Augmented Reality 101 http://twurl.nl/hi1v3w #camar #ar

  4. Compelling post. AR holds tremendous promise. There will certainly be good and bad implementations and over time, the use of it will continue to evolve into something that may appear more AI than AR. Hopefully, the approach adopted and be most useful to everyone will offer privacy along with real-time informational streams relevant to the unique user … and per the unique user’s requests … which truly creates a personalized experience that is as individualized as the person is unique. This is where the value and promise of AR lies. I’ve been recently engaged with a new client that has built a platform that should move user adoption along. The company name is Iryss, formerly known as GoWeb3D, which is currently testing its new Tagwhat network. If you haven’t had a chance to take a look, I encourage you to do so. Check them out on YouTube or Facebook or test drive the app yourself with beta code beta46 through their website at http://www.tagwhat.com.

  5. Thanks Daniel for your comment about the post – and just tweeted about TagWhat which shows real promise for socially focused, real world AR tagging and communication. I think we are on the precipice of a range of apps that combine the best of ‘gated communities’ eg: Facebook with great utility out in the real world. I think TagWhat, FourSquare, Layar, Junaio, Inscribe and others are pioneering the social movement from the abstract 2D screen to the real 3D space. There will be concerns of course as social media becomes truly ‘time AND place stamped’ (with the enhanced read in situ AR context) and the potential abuses of that – so it is up to all of us developing in this space to make sure we keep everything opt-in for now, so as not to raise alarms too early in the evolution 🙂

  6. Descending Clouds – Society and Augmented Reality 101 – PERSONALIZE MEDIA…

    Here is a really simple metaphor to illustrate the pervasiveness and societal significance of Augmented Reality. For the past 20 years humanity has been ‘floating’ its content (its personas, its information, life data, economy and social media) creatin…

  7. Society and Augmented Reality. What happens when the cloud descends? Rocket science or people science? http://bit.ly/a736Q5 great overview!

  8. The thing that I take solace in is the ability to unplug…with no phones, Internet, or anything that connects you to the cloud. It really helps when things become over-electronisized!
    .-= Richard´s last blog ..How Do I Get YouTube Videos On My iPod =-.

  9. Descending Clouds – Society and Augmented Reality 101 | PERSONALIZE MEDIA http://ow.ly/1Eg7Z

  10. RT @garyphayes Descending Clouds – Society and Augmented Reality 101 http://bit.ly/9UQyEB

  11. RT @garyphayes Descending Clouds – Society and Augmented Reality 101 http://bit.ly/9UQyEB

  12. In a near #AR future, non geo-sensitive content will be perceived as incomplete (G. Hayes) http://tinyurl.com/32cssyu

  13. what's Augmented reality? In a near #AR future, non geo-sensitive content will be perceived as incomplete-G.Hayes http://tinyurl.com/32cssyu

  14. Article clef : Descending Clouds – Society and Augmented Reality 101 http://ow.ly/1RatC #ubimedia #cloud #RA #yam via @GaryPHayes

  15. RT @FrancoisVerron: Article clef : Descending Clouds – Society and Augmented Reality 101 http://ow.ly/1RatC #ubimedia #cloud #RA #yam via @GaryPHayes

  16. A little late, but what a great post! Now it’s back to the top to watch some more of the videos!
    .-= Jonathon´s last blog ..Signs Of Governmental Cloud Computing Growth =-.

  17. […] new media producer, lecturer in transmedia & multi-platform at AFTRS and Director of LAMP. His Augmented Reality 101 and 16 Top Augmented Reality Business Models posts are recommend reading.He’ll be explaining how […]

  18. […] being targeted have given their consent to outdoor recognition…I know this is a post in itself (see one of mine recently) but lets assume like TagWhat and FourSquare like services, users are allowing their ‘trusted’ […]

  19. […] targeted have given their consent to outdoor recognition…I know this is a post in itself (see one of mine recently) but lets assume like TagWhat and FourSquare like services, users are allowing their […]

  20. Wat gebeurd er als de content-cloud daalt? "Descending Clouds – Society and Augmented Reality 101" http://bit.ly/bSEfw4 (via @marcokrop)

  21. Descending Clouds – Society and Augmented Reality 101 | PERSONALIZE MEDIA http://bit.ly/eI70R8 #ar

  22. Descending Clouds – Society and Augmented Reality 101 | PERSONALIZE MEDIA http://bit.ly/eRKIny

  23. […] Descending Clouds – Society and Augmented reality 101 http://www.personalizemedia.com/descending-clouds-society-and-augmented-reality-101/ Personalizemedia. abril 2010. Colección de vídeos sobre los desarrollos más recientes en RA. […]

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