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November 3, 2013 / Poooooooooonie

#8. Multimedia, Virtual and Augmented Reality on the Internet

Embarrassingly enough, the first time I’d ever properly heard of or got to know about the idea of augmented reality (well, that I can clearly remember of at the moment, at least) was earlier this year when I’d heard about Google Glass. I wasn’t too impressed by how it looked, to be honest. I mean, just look at its design:


Also not to mention, if you’ve worn glasses for long enough, you’d definitely know that there’s a tendency to avoid looking at an area if there’s an obstruction of sorts located right there, be it a speckle of dirt or a drop of rain. Using Google Glass will probably end up with the wearer looking like this over time:


In my search to learn more about this product, I came across a Youtube channel dedicated to “explorers” whom, well, explored using Google Glass in their daily lives. There wasn’t anything breath-taking, until I watched this particular video:

Like the top comments in the video stated, obviously as an advertisement for Google Glass they’d play up its benefits in order to attract more customers, but I have to admit it did warm me up to the product a little.

Augmented reality is technology that places a virtually-enhanced image on a person’s real-world view, combining the two into a composite. As shown in the video above, augmented reality can help to improve our lives. For example, while Google Maps is indeed helpful, I find myself constantly getting confused when I have to try and orient my phone to the direction I’m walking in. I failed the mapping part of Geography in secondary school too, so you can imagine how especially difficult this task is for me. With augmented reality, the virtual map will adapt based on your own movements to get you to where you want to go. Another positive side to augmented reality is the change in shopping options. While I greatly enjoy online shopping, one of its greatest downsides is that I can never be truly assured that the clothes will fit me the way I want it to look, which would be guaranteed if I were to purchase directly from a physical store. With augmented reality, I can visualise how the clothes will look on me and be more secure in my purchases.

Another great part of augmented reality is how it enhances the interior decorating experience. My family receives the IKEA catalogue regularly, and I take great joy in flipping through every one of them, circling furniture or housewares I really like and imagining how they’d all look in my room. Well, with augmented reality we don’t have to imagine any further but actually be able to see how it’d look in the context of our home.

On the other hand, however, being too immersed in augmented reality could lead to an over-dependence on the technology as well as an inability to tell reality apart from the virtual. With how everyone nowadays so fixated on their smartphones and laptops, I imagine that that dependence will carry over as devices and applications with augmented reality start becoming more mainstream amongst the populations. I definitely do think that when we do embrace augmented reality we do so with the reminder that it is an augmentation but not an actual part of our reality. Otherwise we might just all end up like this guy:



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