Thursday, March 12, 2009

Rediscover Reality Today

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I just found a wonderful blog called Augmented Times. They featured a video of Ori Inbar of Games Alfresco, who uploaded a talk he gave at the Winter Augmented Reality Event in Austria this February. I've always been interested in augmented reality, and want to work more directly with it in my research, but this video may have decided the direction of my PhD. I must do AR!

The point was largely about how to make augmented reality matter to today's youngest generation - the Digital Natives, if you will - to ensure it doesn't fizzle out the way virtual reality did before it. A major theme centred around the fact that modern kids are glued to screens (even though these screens sometimes allow for physical activity, as with the Wii, or are mobile, as with iPhones and Nintendo DS's - they are still staring at a screen). They don't seem to find that whole reality thing very interesting, so we can try to use AR to enhance their interactions with the real world. This makes everyone happy, from parents to national health organizations. It also makes the developers and content providers lots of money.

Pending any transcription errors on my part, the summary of the talk is thus:
To rediscover reality today:
  • Support our mission to nurture a healthy industry through collaboration,
  • focus on the user to drive adoption (soon, pronto, ASAP),
  • and we'll fulfil the vision that in 10 years everyone uses AR to interact with the world in a more meaningful way.

I guess what makes me so excited isn't so much the actual content of this talk (I still think there's a very valuable place for outdoor play without a screen, even if the screen can enhance playtime once in a while). It's more that it confirmed my belief that AR can become the next big thing today, and that it has so much potential for games, education, and a mix of the two.


Ori Inbar said...

Thanks for posting the video!
I am glad it inspired you to do more with AR, which was really the main point.



Gail Carmichael said...

Glad you stopped by the blog, Ori! Incidentally, I've now also subscribed to the Games Alfresco blog. Looking forward to seeing what you have to say in the future ;)

cnawan said...

Excellent! That was a nice convergence of Don Tapscott's 'Grown Up Digital' and current AR, with a solid social mission too.

I'm studying for a degree in E-commerce atm, but only because it's the closest thing I could find to Social Media. The social benefits it drives (transparency, cooperation, generosity, etc) have given me a set of goals I never expected to find, and I'm very glad I did. My other passion is AR, and I think they're a natural fit together. I look forward to sharing my space with virtually present friends and painting a live video feed of a rainforest on my bedroom walls, and all the other fun things we can think of together.

ps. I liked 'Alex' (Borat is fine too) - it reminds me of my latest plaything, having my computer wake me with a list of things I need to do that day, it's surprisingly useful. :)

Gail Carmichael said...

cnawan: I agree, you can probably meld the two together quite nicely. Glad you stopped by the blog!

Oli said...

Agreed for the most part, but I think the key focus to making it happen has to be less about things you can do with AR, and more about making AR convenient to experience. This goes somewhat towards HCI, but I find it's the real trend driving personal devices, and the next epic revolution may be AR, but I think what will make it really happen (where VR is still a glimmer of a hope), is in the devices which implement it. I've been reiterating(ranting) on this one for years now, though it seems numerous companies will beat me to it, so potential for patents may be out the window.

Aside, I think a very important (distinguishing) element missed in the game pleasures is real believable competition. xkcd put it nicely... the "gamestation 20,000" still pulls in less replay value than even the most trivial flash games today. Challenge and reward overlap with competition, but each of those elements can be implemented without competition, and something seems lacking. With competition, you have a sense of rivalry with the intuitive sense that it isn't just the same rote narative, and that it won't just keep getting more difficult to a point of impossibility. It's the golden carrot atop the pyramid -- that idea that you really =can= be the best, and it's not just hardwired into the system to be too easy or too hard. The Halo multiplayer on xbox live helps encourage this idea fairly well. People get discouraged, frustrated, or disinterested when their opponent is too easy or too hard, but when you're matched just right, there's a sense of excitement because the next battle could go any way, a sense of meaningful risk arousing fear (notion of cost in rank), and a sense to really try to win, because every victory counts.

A side note -- the visual verification on comments is a bit of a pain. I think my security settings may be too high.


Gail Carmichael said...

I don't see the verifications when commenting on my own blog, so I forgot about them. I think it's safe to remove them, because even with it, I still get spam comments from time to time. and it's easy enough to just delete them.

Thanks for the interesting and in depth comment Oli!

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