TECHNOLOGY

Augmented reality is where the real metaverse happens


If I asked you to imagine a Greek city, what would you imagine?

I think of buildings like the Parthenon. Like Greece in the history book.

All those buildings were painted in crazy bright colors, like yellow, green and red. We now think of them as these whitewashed buildings. We have always decorated our environment and engineering with decorations. These reality channels can make the world more interesting in certain ways, just by using bits instead of atoms. Instead of paint, it’s digital paint. It can be very local, or it may be set worldwide.

So kids doing high school prom won’t need to decorate the gym. They can give an idea that people can see if they wear glasses, right?

Certainly, sure.

It’s scary to imagine if an augmented layer of reality was hacked. People can mess with you Vision.

I think this can happen with anything. But I worry more about my smart home devices like my Nest being hacked than I am about someone hacking what I’m wearing outside.

It seems to me that this still modifies what our senses provide us in a way that denies our reality. This sounds unhealthy in the same way as the metaverse you’re complaining about. Imagine a child who loves Harry Potter –Niantic licensed the Potter World. You can turn an entire kid’s neighborhood into the world of Hogwarts, and they’ll never turn it off. Parents always say to children, “You live in a dream world.” Well, this technology will do literally Let them live in the world of dreams.

I don’t know, when you were a kid, did you ever imagine that there was so much more in the world than you actually saw?

This is correct. But I had to make my imagination work in it.

When you go to Disneyland, people recreate those things…

but then you Left Disneyland.

Why spend billions on concrete when you can create it digitally? Well, there is scope. If you’re talking about connecting to the channel of reality all the way, from transparent to opaque, where you replace everything in the world with something synthetic, then I agree with you. But I’m talking about decorating things selectively, like planting flowers in boxes along the street. It can make the world more interesting in small doses. I don’t think this is bad. If it makes your child want to go for a walk in the park with you instead of playing computer games, that’s a deal I’ll make. Because you’ll see the redwoods, you’ll breathe fresh air, and he’ll do the exercise. And if he finds a Pokemon hiding behind a fern, well, I’m good at it.

But it’s more than just a Pokemon. You are promoting an ongoing technology that is used in all kinds of undesirable activities.

Yes, that’s what we mean by “the fact metaverse” – the common substrate for all these metamorphoses. Many of them are for entertainment – giant robots, backmanPokemon. But it can be purely utilitarian. It can be geared towards shopping or any number of practical applications. What’s different from the VR metaverse is that with our structure you have this common structure that represents the real world. Bits are attached to atoms. So you have these things that add information to where you are or give you useful functionality. It could put a virtual button hanging in the air that lets you buy a bus ticket or check-in for your flight, shares drawn on the sidewalk that lead you to the subway, or information about the product you’re looking for, telling us whether it’s ethically sourced. This is the possibility that counts. AR is where the real metaverse will happen.


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