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Will Augmented Reality just be really, really boring?

November 4, 2010

BoingBoing draws my attention to a video produced by London firm, Berg, with the London office of Japanese advertising agency, Dentsu. Cory Doctorow, who posted this one, and who I usually find to be bang on the money, comments that it presents an imagination of ‘Augmented Reality’ that isn’t ‘an advertising hell’. That may be true, but it’s hardly an inspiring vision of the future of such a potentially empowering technology.  For a start, most of what is shown isn’t really ‘AR’ at all, just ways of displaying social media on different kinds of surfaces so you can’t escape from it – and in fact, Berg/Dentsu do term it ‘incidental media’. To me, AR, if it is to be anything useful at all, means a heightened sensory environment, and one that should start with providing ways for those already disadvantaged to experience the city. Bill Mitchell called the last book of his City of Bits trilogy, Me++, and AR should really create a City++. The dreary corporate Berg/Dentsu future isn’t anyway near this, in fact it’s a City–, it’s reality reduced to endless news and personal updates. If it’s not hell, it’s more like a meaningless limbo… I know that many visions of the future go way over the top, but this is so timid and unimaginative, it just makes the future look boring.

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