From Augmented Reality to Blurred Reality

The slippery slope, the thin edge of the wedge, the first steps towards a new reality.  Augmented Reality has now been a buzz word thrown around for a couple of years, as companies try and come up with potential uses and markets, and everyone speculates on what exact form it will take.  So far, we have mostly seen AR in the forms of proof-of-concept projects, and, not surprisingly, ads.  Advertising is the obvious first form of AR, as any new space in the visual landscape is destined to be filled with revenue generating content, as companies do not care what spectrum of reality they are entering, as long as people buy more products.  What is going to be interesting to see is how this will play out, and we are starting to see the different realities emerge.  Currently, most AR advertising is completely opt-in, where you are choosing to participate in a service, and are allowing to be advertised to, usually in return for being entertained, getting a discount, or desired interactivity.  Exploration of this model is taken to the extreme through projects like Augmented (hyper) Reality, a world where we are constantly bombarded with ads, but in turn retrieve a level of monetary compensation for the intrusion.  A sign of this future comes in the form of ARTags, which has the exact opposite intention, and is almost a preemptive volley in the coming visual war.

ARTags from RealMyop on Vimeo.

How the world can become your gallery.
ARTags is the first application that lets you draw wherever and whenever you want leaving your mark in augmented reality.
You can express your skills on your own mobile phone. Once your “tag” is completed you can drop it in one of our AR Browsers and leave your mark.

We are an artistic, open source ,free project and we need your support to make the app known and successful. Very soon augmented reality will invade our life with a lot of marketing aiming to make us accept his mercantile products. But augmented reality can be much more, we just need to know how to use this tool. ARTag allows everyone to express themselves anonymously and freely the world of augmented reality through a mobile app for Android.

You can almost imagine it as street art tagging before the billboards even go up, a democratic claiming of the digital visual landscape before the advertisers have their chance.  The problem is that you can easily see how this exact technology will be used to layer our world with ads in the future.  In fact, I am afraid that companies will try and sneak more viral, “artistic” branding into the landscape.  This is all effecting how we are going to be seeing our environment, but the other thing that AR is going to change is how we see each other.

Faces from arturo castro on Vimeo.

Face Substitution from Kyle McDonald on Vimeo.

This is changing people’s faces on the fly, based on a photo, dynamically morphing to match expressions.  Just a few years ago, this was still science fiction speculation, with films like A Scanner Darkly and the scramble suit.

This concept is now being implemented through programming, shared code and libraries being passed around on the web.  This is the beginning of the transition from Augmented Reality to Blurred Reality, where it is not just the addition of information, but now the obscuring of information.  It will probably just be a matter of days to weeks before this starts to be used by groups like Anonymous to hide their identities in videos, including live feeds, especially considering that every Guy Fawks mask sold is more money for Time Warner, who owns the copyright to the design from V For Vendetta.  Blurred Reality is not counter to Augmented Reality, but a more inclusive term, acknowledging that the technology is going to be used to both additively and subtractively alter our surroundings, to lie to us both for our pleasure and for other’s desires.  We will see both the world we want to see, and the world that others want us to see, and those two forces very likely will be at odds, and the tension between the two will originate both the greatest opportunities and the largest failures.

Via Gizmodo and The Next Web

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