Outside of the usual talk of how the enterprise will adopt mixed reality tech first and hearables will one day be a big market, this year’s Wearable Tech Show in London suggested an interesting future around how mixed reality headsets could be used to warp our own realities in the real world, in real time.
We’re told we’ll be able to create “personal realities” and make the landscape look how we want, ensure people see us exactly how we want to be seen – whether man, woman, troll, dolphin etc. – and that headsets are just the tip of an iceberg which will one day include full haptics, scent, and more. Not just like Second Life through an Oculus Rift, but more akin to a HoloLens or Magic Leap which distorts reality as you go about your daily life. This sounds terrifying. And that’s before you even start addressing the issue of whether or not we’ll need an Adblocker in our day to day ‘existence’.
Anyone who has read Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One [mild spoilers below] might find this concept familiar; millions of people living entire lives detached from the real world in constructs of their own making. While the digital world in the story sounds entertaining, the description of the physical world mean can only be labelled as dystopian. People never leave their houses, never see or touch another human being, even have entire marriages through these realities. It’s not a future I particularly want to see come to pass.
Human existence is based on the accepted theory that we all share one reality. We already live in an incredibly divisive time as it is, and letting people build even more artificial walls to separate themselves from what is real seems like a bad way to better connect people. It might be a shitty reality at times, but the only way to make it better is to accept we all live in it and work towards fixing things, not finding increasingly immersive ways to escape it.
Hackers bursting our personal bubbles
In this “personal bubble” reality, we’re warned, security will be more of an imperative than ever. Not only would hackers be able to destroy your digital world, but also manipulate it. And in a world where people like Darren Brown can not only actively manipulate people to his way of thinking but apparently also hypnotise them to kill people, that seems like a recipe for disaster.
Ironically, the audience was told to avoid being too “creepy” with some its ideas – for example being able to bring up all publicly available information and profiles of people in front of you – but it sounds like the future will be creepy enough.
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