Advances in computer vision are leading to some really interesting possibilities. In my Space, Time, and the Mind posts I mentioned that I was going to teach you all how you can go from 2D images to a 3D environment. Sony has developed an augmented reality (“AR”) application allowing them to do just this. In this demonstration they form a 3D environment from a cell phone camera. Then they drop animated 3D balls onto the environment which respond to real world surfaces in the room, such as chairs and tables. They also place an animated 3D model into a bedroom and have it walk around. This technology has almost matured to a stage where it’s becoming practical and useful. We’re VERY close to computers deeply understanding the environments they’re in and interacting with us humans in useful ways. We’re reverse engineering the brain very quickly and this is allowing machines to think like humans and supplement our minds.
I imagine that this sort of technology will eventually integrate with our brains giving us useful information. Say you were in an airplane and the pilot had a heart-attack. A virtual AR guide could show you step by step how to land the airplane.
Say you were thinking about a recent argument with your girlfriend and you accidentally walk out into the street where a car is rapidly approaching. I can imagine these AR systems warning you with a loud noise and possibly an AR virtual being screaming at you, “Get out of the road, you’re about to be run over!”
Or even more practical, say you walk into a hardware store and are in a hurry. You’re wondering where a particular appliance is. What do you do? You call up a virtual “guide” who then appears within your personal perceptional field, leading you to where you need to go. The same would apply to finding your spouse in a shopping mall. “Where’s Sarah at? Could you lead me to her?” Then a little 3D model appears which walks you directly to her. Even if this didn’t integrate with our brains through nanobots, our cell phones could perform this same function with their cameras.
This system could display names over people’s heads so you never forget someone’s name. It could also give you a brief biography of who they are so you’d know who you’re dealing with, and possibility give you a log of your past interactions with that person. That would help tremendously if you’re a salesmen.
If you’re out for a walk late at night and see a stranger approaching, it could warn you if that person has a past criminal record, or is a sex offender. It could also notify a nearby police officer and if that person tries something, the police could be there in an instant to save you. Your privacy could be “unlocked” and then the police would have a GPS fix on you from nanobots in your brain. Even if the person used some drug on you and you were unconscious the police would be there to save you before you were raped.
This leads to a lot of privacy concerns, but the possibilities for such technology are endless. Overall, this stuff is just awesome. People are also going to be gaming with AR beings in their bedrooms and on their kitchen tables. This is so neat. Here’s an upcoming fighting game for the Playstation Portable. It would be amazing to do a finishing move, knocking your opponent off the edge of the table onto the floor!
Nintendo is also making some really creative games. Imagine using your handheld Nintendo to practice archery, shooting at objects across your living room. Looks pretty cool!
It would be totally badass to go the subway and fight random people at Samurai Showdown within the train car there on the floor. Be even cooler when we have virtual reality and nanobots in our brains. Then we can control the AR being with our minds and fight one and one there in the airport waiting area. “You want some of this! Bring it!” Nobody else even sees it happening – it would all happen in our brains. I would morph into Ukyo, the most epic samurai ever. We’d be jumping off of walls, throwing shurikens at one another, and doing back flips from rafters. We could use grappling hooks and swing around, battling in mid-air like those old kung fu movies. As this video shows, Ukyo’s only weakness is a beautiful woman stripping off her clothes. He quickly loses focus and she defeats him, but only for one round.