Monday, October 19, 2009

Everyone Would Rather Be Lucid Dreaming

My dreams have been somewhat shattered. Somewhat. There is a strange tension that pervades The International Symposium On Augmented and Mixed Reality (2009). It's like there are 400 children who have been told to go to sleep the night before Christmas, except there might never be any presents. AR just might be hype and never really happen. Nobody knows, and there's a lot of squirming going on.

Plus there are 400 children vying for one gift under the tree.


There will most likely emerge a monopoly within the AR industry, it's prophesized by the nature of the technology. The augmentations will have to be hosted and edited from a central point. Whoever hosts that will have to design a popular world, a first app that uses glasses (head mounted displays) with controllers (gloves?) properly and attracts the first wave of users large enough to matter.

They say that this emergent company will be whoever hosts the best "points of interest," the most useful geographically-tagged information datums. An unspoken understanding from deep within the Orlando Downtown Marriot: whoever figures this out will make billions of dollars.


And the tension that pervades the building exists because of the buzz. AR IS SO COOL. Well what if they don't pull it off? Honestly it probably won't be these guys who do pull it off. Apple or Google could just as easily (maybe more easily!) become the super-emergent billion dollar AR host everyone is lucid dreaming about. Why haven't they made the move yet? Why aren't they at this conference?

I have yet to meet any other game designers. People want to figure out how to build a "facebook for AR." They want to know: how do you get people to start tagging places and contributing information and feeding the host company piles and piles of personal data so they can go and sell all of it off to....

sorry. Fun secret cosmos fact: The killer app is going to be a game. It'll be a pervasive MMO that allows people to change how they look, interact with interesting narratives and cooperate/compete socially.

How do I know? Because I'm their target audience. Because humans are very simple and we just want to engage in systems of reward. Games are invented systems of want and need. "I NEED TO CHECK FACEBOOK." No you don't, that need was presented by the technology and you have bought into it's system of social rewards. Games. Play. Design. Fun. Discovery.

These people are... mmmf. Don't get me wrong: lot's of cool tech. Surgeons can operate on people who are thousands of miles away by projecting remote visuals. Some of the demo's are mind-blowing.

I tried on some lightweight glasses that perfectly overlay 3D objects: coolest damn thing I've experienced in awhile. $250. And the guys who make them were the most interesting to talk to so far. They're building these things so people will make the kinds of games Nick and I are talking about. This is 100% doable. It'll be tough, but the tech is there. We can get an API dev kit for the glasses. That's all I needed to know.

All the buzz about stepping away from reality... people seem to have lost touch with something. Maybe I have too? We so badly want to just play around somewhere other than the Downtown Orlando Marriot.

But as we chase improvements to reality (make things faster, more beautiful, more immersive, more informative) we improve along lines of human desire that are one-directional. It's a straight road away from physical existence and these kids are sprinting down it. Eventually they'll want to go back. Maybe some of them already do and that's what I'm picking up on. The atmosphere of headlong illusion makes me reassess the things I believe in, the things that tie me to this world and make it worth playing out as a real person.

I miss her.

1 comment:

Maggie said...

Welcome to reality: she misses you.