/* ---- Google Analytics Code Below */

Monday, January 20, 2020

Will Augmented Reality Change Everything we See?

From the Penn Alumni Mag, a broad, descriptive and mostly academic oriented view of the world of augmented reality.  Below the intro and at the link more...

Augmenting Reality
Will augmented reality change everything we see? A growing number of Penn alumni, staff, and faculty think so. And even as they bump up against its challenges and limitations, they’re still committed to pulling AR further into our lives.

By Molly Petrilla | Illustration by Roman Klonek

Sidebar: Need a HoloLens? Try the Library

I’m killing scorpions inside Stephen Lane’s office.

They skitter out of openings in the wall, crawling up and down, sometimes even jumping right at me. I try zapping them away but sometimes I miss, blasting holes around Lane’s door and exposing white pipes and other slivers of the building’s bones.

Lane doesn’t seem to mind. In fact, he’s laughing. The computer and information science professor who was just sitting behind his desk, earnestly answering questions about the future of technology, has transformed into a jazzed-up gamer who’s excited to share his toy with a novice.

“Are you getting them?” he asks as scorpions dance around us. “Just keep firing!”

Even as giant predatory arachnids are scurrying in front of me, and even as my fingers trigger laser beams to destroy them, I’m still inside Lane’s real office. If I turn around, I can see his dark wood desk with its stacks of papers and cup of coffee. I can see his crowded bookshelves and his whiteboard. I can see Lane himself—plaid shirt, bristly mustache, belt with colorful little sailboats. But thanks to the Microsoft HoloLens I’m wearing—a headset that wraps around my forehead and hangs down over my eyes, resting on the bridge of my nose—the game is with us too, turning a plain white wall into a scorpion lair.

And that’s augmented reality.

RoboRaid is a simple introduction for the uninitiated. “It’s a game, but it really shows off some of the capabilities,” Lane says just before passing me the HoloLens.

AR isn’t about fully losing yourself in an imaginary world the way virtual reality is. It’s about enhancing your actual surroundings with computer-generated images and objects. At its most ambitious, AR can require programming expertise and a $3,500 headset like the HoloLens. But it can also be as simple as pulling out your smartphone and turning yourself into a bunny with an Instagram filter.

On that morning inside Lane’s office, I’m not the only one at Penn testing out augmented reality’s abilities and discovering its limits. Across campus and well beyond, a number of faculty, alumni, staff, and students are all focused on applying AR to their fields. You’ll find them inside operating rooms and classrooms, heading up teams at Google and the New York Times, and working for a leading AR headset company.

They’re all convinced that augmented reality can change our world—that it will change our world—in every area from medicine and education to research, retail, and entertainment. But they’re also starting to wonder: What will it take to get past the tipping point, and what might life be like after we do? ... " 

No comments: