February 20, 2009
Smart Phones Change How We See Our Surroundings

Unaugmented reality is just so passe.

Indeed, a new generation of smartphones like the G1, with Android software developed by Google, and a range of Japanese phones now “augment” reality by painting a map over a phone-screen image of the user’s surroundings produced by the phone’s camera.

Why experience reality without enhancements? I see phone reality augmentation as a transitory step. We really need glasses that do heads-up display overlaying information about what is in front of us or what we want to know about.

Using a hand to manipulate the phone is a waste of a valuable extremity. We need to be able to think what we want the phone to do. The "Phone Company" in the Cold War classic paranoid movie The President's Analyst tried to convince James Coburn's character to recommend to the US President to embed phones in everyone's brain. Then just think a phone number and the phone would dial it. Well, we need something like that.

Phones that know where you are and tell your friends and associates take away privacy but provide greater connectivity. Phones can also tell you things about your immediate surroundings.

Increasingly, phones will allow users to look at an image of what is around them. You could be surrounded by skyscrapers but have an immediate reference map showing your destination and features of the landscape, along with your progress in real time. Part of what drives the emergence of map-based services is the vast marketing potential of analyzing consumers’ travel patterns. For example, it is now possible for marketers to identify users who are shopping for cars because they have traveled to multiple car dealerships.

Imagine databases of criminals. Your "phone" could tell you when it sees a criminal near you and show you the list of convictions for that criminal. Or how about a phone that watches what you buy in a grocery store and warns you when you pick up something that violates your diet?

Share |      Randall Parker, 2009 February 20 12:41 AM  Comm Tech Society

David Govett said at February 20, 2009 1:00 AM:

I could use glasses with a heads-up display, to recognize people whose names I've forgotten.
It could be good for pattern recognition.
The potential uses are limited only by one's imagination.

Brett Bellmore said at February 20, 2009 4:08 AM:

I'm highly suspicious of providing a high bandwidth route into my brain; I don't know which would be worse, viruses, or lying there twitching for five minutes every time an update to my anti-viral profiles downloads.

But, glasses, that I could see. Especially since I wear 'em now.

Tho Ng said at February 20, 2009 11:19 AM:

Something like Vernor Vinge's Ranbow's End? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rainbows_End
Nothing revolutionary, but an impressive evolution of technologies.

Human brain mods are the next big thing.

Luke said at February 20, 2009 2:23 PM:

Forget the "vast marketing potential" - the first thing I'm doing when I get some augmented reality glasses is the same thing I do whenever I get firefox - downloading Adblock Plus, that way I can get rid of all the annoying billboards and print ads defacing "meatspace".

Keir said at March 2, 2009 6:43 PM:

The glasses idea sounds pretty cool.
No way is anything getting installed into my brain
No thanks! You can go first at least.

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