John D Radcliff, Specializing in Interactive Technology & Education!

Is augmented reality the new virtual reality?

        Virtual reality places a person in a simulated environment were as augmented reality is a part of a person's environment and enhances a person's current perception of reality.  If we look at the quote "But it is important to remember that virtual community originates in, and must return to, the physical forgetting about the body is an old Cartesian trick" (113).  VR up to this point has always been an act of putting on a helment and being thrusted into a computer generated world which takes us into a different world visually.


        I believe we are headed into a world of augmented reality and that virtual reality is a thing of the past.  You must have the body and mind be of one, separation of the two will never bring a true sense of reality in any environment.  I recently tried the new Kinect video game Fighters Uncaged.  The game play was not very desirable so you could only do moves that the game was designed to pickup (i.e. you can try to do an upper cut and your character will kick).  What I did like after playing the game was I was sweating and had a great workout.  I have seen this with the WII fit games which has you control characters on the T.V. in a fitness type program by using wireless bands strapped to your arms and legs.  This is the true merge of body and mind in the real world.  If we look at Virtual Reality in the same sense then we have to throw away the VR helment and go with an augmented reality. 

        The 3D T.V. is the trying the same concept by having the viewer put on a pair of 3D glasses to have images popup out of the T.V. screen to create a new viewing experience.  Here in lies the same problem as with the VR helments, after about 5 minutes or less of wearing these glasses your eyes will start to become strained and you get a really bad headache.  So trying to trick the body by visually fooling the mind does not work for long periods of time and only takes into account one of the five senses.  This is why augemented reality as seen from the WII and XBOX Kinect video game systems, is the better choice to date since it is interacting with a person in their environment instead of bringing someone into an alternate reality.  Now if you could combine the elements of Second Life with the controls of the WII or Kinect systems then this would be the next biggest evolution in online interactivity. 


        What is great about Second Life is how you can create your own fully customizable avatar, then build your own world, and interact with people from around the world.  Not only that but you can buy and sell realestate, start your own business, or work for someone all inside of the Second Life realm.  Now if you could be given the option of either controlling your avatar by using your body movements then we are getting closer to having a true full body interactive online experience.  The other part of this is the full submersive part were a person can experience themselves in an alternate reality which looks and feels like real life. 

        The book keeps referencing the movie Strange Days that has a device called "the wire" which has a person go into a dream hypnotic state when wearing this electronic device.  The person is able to feel, see and experience everything in this dream state world which resembles real life.  I believe this is another part of the evolution of augmented reality except with the person being fully awake.  The future of augumented reality will be the ability to experience a fully immersed digital world that will look like the real world.  The issues of wearing equipment on the eyes or "jacking" into a digital world by plugging an electronic device into your head, will not be necessary. 

        A person needs to be awake and have all of the senses stimulated, not just the nervous system.  Using a device that has a person go into a dream or alternate sleep state (Like in the Movie Strange Days or Surrogates) has the body become physically weak while the mind is "jacking into" an online digital world.  This is were a person is in an alternate world and has no sense of their real physical body since everything in this digital world feels very real.  People want to stay in this digital world forever while their body is withering away due to neglect of the physical.   As I mentioned earlier, a person needs to have balance of both physical and mental.  To achieve this state, a transparent interface would be necessary were a person no longer is aware of confronting a medium. 

        Interactivity then becomes a series of interacting with holograms or projected 3D images which encompass site, sound, taste, touch and smell.  Truly this is the issue we face in that how do we as a human beings emulate all of our sensory devices in a digital world?  The interactive environments or devices of the future will need to have a person experience the smell of a pine wood forest, feel the cool mist of the ocean, touch rough tree bark or even taste a piece of fruit.  Once this is accomplished, then people will be able to accept an augmented reality with very few limiations or liabilities.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.