WIRED Found: The Ultimate Collection

I love WIRED magazine. It has excellent features; interesting contributors; an unpatronising writing style; awesome graphic design; unannoying ads; even the paper it’s printed on is good quality. WIRED is, to many, an opinion leading and culturally significant title both on and offline.
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It’s future facing attitude really suits my own, so I’ve been reading it regularly for years. Now the UK title is in print, I buy both that and the US version. Ubergeek, aren’t I?

One of my favourite features was always the back page, the ‘Found’ section, which featured potential realities of our future daily lives.
Sadly no longer supported by the magazine, ‘Found’ lives on as an online Photoshop contest, where readers can submit their own images on subjects such as chewing gum and rehab.

I wanted to find the original images though, and I’ve managed to source the earliest online record (Jan ‘04) up to the last published image (Jul ‘08).

So here they are, in reverse chronological order. They are packed with all sorts of detail and easter eggs, so click on them to see the full images:

The Final Found

From WIRED July 2008, predicted for 2018:

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Wine Spectrometer

From WIRED June 2008, predicted for circa 2020:

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Smithsonian

From WIRED May 2008, predicted for 2096:

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Risk

From WIRED April 2008, predicted for 2027:

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Home Shopping

From WIRED March 2008, predicted for circa 2016:

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Tattoo

From WIRED February 2008, predicted for the near future:

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Windshield

From WIRED January 2008, predicted for 2013:

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Responsibeer

From WIRED December 2007, predicted for 2012:

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Waste Management

From WIRED November 2007, predicted for circa 2025:

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Halloween

From WIRED October 2007, predicted for 2015:

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Birthday

From WIRED September 2007, predicted for 2079:

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Fruit Stand

From WIRED August 2007, predicted for circa 2020:

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Comic Book

From WIRED July 2007, predicted for 2021:

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Fido Fusion

From WIRED June 2007, predicted for 2016:

wired found image

Reunion

From WIRED May 2007, predicted for 2052:

Bug Spray

From WIRED April 2007, predicted for circa 2050:

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Medicine Cabinet

From WIRED March 2007, predicted for 2013:

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Speeding Ticket

From WIRED February 2007, predicted for 2054:

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Crayons

From WIRED January 2007, predicted for 2013:

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Christmas Shopping

From WIRED December 2006, predicted for 2017:

wired found image

Organ Farming

From WIRED November 2006, predicted for 2015:

wired found image

Bluetooth

From WIRED October 2006, predicted for 2019:

wired found image

Report Card

From WIRED September 2006, predicted for 2018:

wired found image

Diet Cola

From WIRED August 2006, predicted for 2019:

wired found image

Contact Lens

From WIRED July 2006, predicted for 2020:

wired found image

Bookstore

From WIRED June 2006, predicted for 2021:

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Operation

From WIRED May 2006, predicted for 2027:

wired found image

Tax Day

From WIRED April 2006, predicted for 2021:

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MTA Route Map

From WIRED March 2006, predicted for 2067:

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Love Tester

From WIRED February 2006, predicted for 2015:

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Mood Ring

From WIRED January 2006, predicted for 2009:

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Christmas Morning

From WIRED December 2005, predicted for 2016:

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Diaper

From WIRED November 2005, predicted for 2024:

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Sharper Image

From WIRED October 2005, predicted for 2012:

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Space Elevator

From WIRED September 2005, predicted for 2032:

wired found image

Crossword

From WIRED August 2005, predicted for 2019:

wired found image

Nightstand

From WIRED July 2005, predicted for 2017:

wired found image

Antivirus

From WIRED June 2005, predicted for 2022:

wired found image

Bumper Sticker

From WIRED May 2005, predicted for 2012:

wired found image

Horoscope

From WIRED April 2005, predicted for 2056:

wired found image

Insurance Form

From WIRED March 2005, predicted for 2069:

wired found image

Taste Tester

From WIRED February 2005, predicted for 2009:

wired found image

House Call

From WIRED January 2005, predicted for the near future:

wired found image

Barf Bag

From WIRED December 2004, predicted for 2047:

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Election Day

From WIRED November 2004, predicted for 2012:

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Bathroom Vendor

Scanned from WIRED October 2004:

wired found image

Lost File

Scanned from WIRED September 2004:

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Box Set

Scanned from WIRED August 2004:

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Power Gym

Scanned from WIRED July 2004:

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20 Big Ones

Scanned from WIRED June 2004:

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Postcards

Scanned from WIRED May 2004:

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Nanobot Inhaler

Scanned from WIRED April 2004:

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Bulletproof Fashion

Scanned from WIRED March 2004:

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Chococeuticals

Scanned from WIRED February 2004:

wired found image

Mood Machine

Scanned from WIRED January 2004:

wired found image

Thanks to Rhaomi for the brilliant Metafilter article Artifacts from the Future, and to Stuart Candy for his scans that complete the collection, found here on his site.

Any I’ve missed? Let me know!

What is AR and What is it Capable Of?

Presently, most AR research is concerned with live video imagery and it’s processing, which allows the addition of live-rendered 3D digital images. This new augmented reality is viewable through a suitably equipped device, which incorporates a camera, a screen and a CPU capable of running specially developed software. This software is written by specialist software programmers, with knowledge of optics, 3D-image rendering, screen design and human interfaces. The work is time consuming and difficult, but since there is little competition in this field, the rare breakthroughs that do occur are as a result of capital investment: something not willingly given to developers of such a nascent technology.

What is exciting about AR research is that once the work is done, its potential is immediately seen, since in essence it is a very simple concept. All that is required from the user is their AR device and a real world target. The target is an object in the real world environment that the software is trained to identify. Typically, these are specially designed black and white cards known as markers:

An AR marker, this one relates to a 3D model of Doctor Who's Tardis in Gameware's HARVEE kit
An AR marker, this one relates to a 3D model of Doctor Who's Tardis in Gameware's HARVEE kit

These assist the recognition software in judging viewing altitude, distance and angle. Upon identification of a marker, the software will project or superimpose a virtual object or graphical overlay above the target, which becomes viewable on the screen of the AR device. As the device moves, the digital object orients in relation to the target in real-time:

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Augmented Reality in action, multiple markers in use on the HARVEE system on a Nokia N73

The goal of some AR research is to free devices from markers, to teach AR devices to make judgements about spatial movements without fixed reference points. This is the cutting edge of AR research: markerless tracking. Most contemporary research, however, uses either marker-based or GPS information to process an environment.

Marker-based tracking is suited to local AR on a small scale, such as the Invisible Train Project (Wagner et al., 2005) in which players collaboratively keep virtual trains from colliding on a real world toy train track, making changes using their touch-screen handheld computers:

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The Invisible Train Project (Wagner et al., 2005)

GPS tracking is best applied to large scale AR projects, such as ARQuake (Thomas et al, 2000), which exploits a scale virtual model of the University of Adelaide and a modified Quake engine to place on-campus players into a ‘first-person-shooter’. This application employs use of a headset, wearable computer, and a digital compass, which offer the effect that enemies appear to walk the corridors and ‘hide’ around corners. Players shoot with a motion-sensing arcade gun, but the overall effect is quite crude:

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ARQuake (Thomas et al, 2000)

More data input would make the game run smoother and would provide a more immersive player experience. The best applications of AR will exploit multiple data inputs, so that large-scale applications might have the precision of marker-based applications whilst remaining location-aware.

Readers of this blog will be aware that AR’s flexibility as a platform lends applicability to a huge range of fields:

  • Current academic work uses AR to treat neurological conditions: AR-enabled projections have successfully cured cockroach phobia in some patients (Botella et al., 2005);
  • There are a wide range of civic and architectural uses: Roberts et al. (2002) have developed AR software that enables engineers to observe the locations of underground pipes and wires in situ, without the need schematics
  • AR offers a potentially rich resource to the tourism industry: the Virtuoso project (Wagner et al., 2005) is a handheld computer program that guides visitors around an AR enabled gallery, providing additional aural and visual information suited to each artefact;

The first commercial work in the AR space was far more playful, however: AR development in media presentations for television has led to such primetime projects as Time Commanders (Lion TV for BBC2, 2003-2005) in which contestants oversee an AR-enabled battlefield, and strategise to defeat the opposing army, and FightBox (Bomb Productions for BBC2, 2003) in which players build avatars to compete in an AR ‘beat-em-up’ that is filmed in front of a live audience; T-Immersion (2003- ) produce interactive visual installations for theme parks and trade expositions; other work is much more simple, in one case the BBC commissioned an AR remote-control virtual Dalek meant for mobile phones, due for free download from BBC Online:

A Dalek, screenshot taken from HARVEE's development platform (work in progress)
A Dalek, screenshot taken from HARVEE's development platform (work in progress)

The next entry in this series is a case study in AR development. If you haven’t already done so, please follow me on Twitter or grab an RSS feed to be alerted when my series continues.