This series addresses the development and emergence of a new media technology known as Augmented Reality.
I hold the view that this is a culturally significant innovation that holds implications for the user in society.

My discussion reaches a depth of analysis not yet met by contemporary media theorists, but I employ previous academic thought on emergent technologies to provide a framework for analysis, whose work also guides and highlights certain key points that I make.

I address this work with a methodical, structural approach that leaves room for exploration of themes such as virtuality, experiential reality, economics, art, the aura, space, technological determinism, and hyper-reality.

An Opus to AR – It Begins

Here it goes. The first entry of my grand opus on Augmented Reality, and why I think it will be the most impacting new media form we have had since the rise of the Internet. I will serialise a total of 10,000 words, hyperlinked where appropriate, and with illustrations where possible. The title of this work is as follows:

Assessing an Augmented Future: What is Augmented Reality, What are its Potential Applications in the Entertainment Industry, and What Will its Emergence Mean for the User in Society?

Series Order:

  1. Contents
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. What is AR and what is it capable of?
  5. Gameware: A Case Study in AR Development
  6. Constructing a methodology
  7. Reverse Engineering: Locating AR within its wider context
    1. Virtual Reality
    2. The Internet
    3. Mobile Telephone
    4. Summary
  8. Deconstructing AR: assessing it’s socio-cultural impact
    1. Applying McLuhan
    2. Applying Baudrillard
    3. Applying Benjamin
  9. Conclusion
  10. Bibliography
    1. References
    2. Further Reading

Please stick with me, I plan to release each element over a the next few weeks beginning today with Part 2, my research abstract. Grab an RSS feed and please chip in with your contributions.

How I Feel About AR Right Now

I found this video clip which does well to sum up my current opinion on marker-based Augmented Reality, which seems to be breaking into the mainstream via desktop applications and fixed webcams:

Me too (doing some AR stuff)! from Anatoly Zenkov on Vimeo.

You’ve seen it around the office – someone prints out a marker and everyone huddles around the only computer with a webcam. Anatoly Zenkov has noticed it too, and he wants you to realise that all you’re really looking at is a static 3D image overlaid on a piece of paper. Nothing culture-shifting about that now is there?

Let me be among the first of the dissenters:
There is far more to AR than barcodes and webcams.

There are thousands of helpful & exciting uses for the technology. Think past ‘tethered’ AR experiences and consider what good Mobile AR can do with GPS and with markerless tracking. Endless potential lies that way. I assure you, the future is far brighter than we think.

Where I initially believed that the Advertising and Entertainment industries would drive innovation and push AR into popular consiousness (they are currently doing so), I now believe that good AR (as distinct from any old AR) will be driven by paid applications on next-gen handsets.

I think I’ll serialise posts about the best applications for Augmented Reality over the coming weeks. Why not subscribe now to hear about it first? You know it makes sense.

Microsoft’s Vision for the Future

Microsoft have released a new video suggesting they seek to reposition themselves over the next decade. I think they are on to something:

Their vision for the future is evidently very ambitious, but I believe that if anyone can pull this off, it’s them.

Microsoft’s approach has always been to create user experiences that are improved through exclusive use of Microsoft products. Sure, it’s got them in a  lot of trouble in the past, but it’s their corporate power and knowledge of how technologies (especially theirs) can work together that will best service the user through Ubiquitous Computing and Augmented Reality.

What’s especially interesting to me is that they really seem to have thought past their next release, Surface. It’s great to see something of their overall strategy. Something Apple, Google & Yahoo! are far less forthcoming with.

We are soon to have a Surface installed in the lobby at work. Really looking forward to it, but I’m concerned it’ll be too prescriptive in what it can be  used for. If Surface and any of the featured technologies in the above video suffer the marketing / usability failures of Vista it’ll be years more until these tools become a reality, at the hands of their competitors.

Will feedback on Surface once I’ve had a hands-on.