Virtually Real: 3 Ways We Use Technology to Enhance the World Around Us
Don’t you just wish you could press a button and change everything about the reality playing out around you? Many would just select all of 2020 and hit DELETE. No one wants to talk about presidential elections, even the candidates. No one wants to think about the fact that the US keeps hitting record-high infection rates for the coronavirus.
Thankfully, the tech sector has been busy creating new distractions and diversions. The gaming industry never stops creating new ways to see the world. These days, game development is as much an art form as making movies. Gaming offers insight on where our culture is and where it is headed, what we value and what we imagine the world might be like through the eyes of others.
The gaming industry is not alone. Other parts of the tech sector are also getting in on the game. Science fiction is looking a lot more like science and less like fiction. Here are some of the ways big tech is changing the way we see and experience the world:
More Than Human Limitations
One of the greatest risks in a warehousing environment is human injury. Just doing the job correctly with no accidents will still leave a person with potentially crippling back pain, if not outright injury. Life requires us to exceed our human limitations to get many necessary jobs done.
Technology allows us to go beyond our normal human limitations with powered exoskeletons that can enhance our natural abilities. We can already lift. But an exoskeleton can help us lift more, and with less stress on our knees and backs. The potential is endless.
Beyond turning humans into superhuman, a powered exoskeleton can give a person who has lost some of their capacity a second chance to be productive. A disability no longer has to be an end to a person’s ability to contribute. Reality might suggest that a person’s career is over, or that the job requires superhuman abilities. But reality has been augmented to include human abilities we didn’t have before.
A Whole New World
Gaming is an incredible way to re-envision the world. It is not just a way to escape it. It used to be that games were just a way to engage our minds and fingers. With virtual reality games, we can engage our entire being.
The only black mark against virtual reality is that gaming is dominated by the glorification of war and violence and death. Virtual reality has the potential to show us other possibilities. Developers have the power and responsibility to show us whole new worlds with new hope. If a part of what games do is allow us to escape, developers must do a better job of giving more people new places to which they want to escape. That is the promise of virtual reality.
More Than Meets the Eye
Both sci-fi and fantasy show us a future where there is a lot more to see than what is readily available to the naked eye. That future is upon us. Prognosticators have been trying to explain for a while why AR, not VR is the next big thing in business. By and large, VR is about creating worlds that don’t exist. AR is about enhancing the world we already have.
Right now, the best AR experiences are in smartphones and tablets. But soon those experiences will be transferred to normal-looking glasses that can be worn by everyone, even those with prescriptions. If done right, AR glasses could take the place of prescriptions.
We are already seeing AR gaming applications that place imaginary characters and objects in the real world. One of the more interesting applications allows persistence where one person places an object or builds a structure that another person can come along and see. The possibilities are not only endless, but endlessly exciting.
Of course, none of this changes the shared reality through which we are all living at this time. But it does give us hope that the day is coming when we will exceed human limitations, sample new worlds, and greatly enhance how we interact with the one we currently inhabit. Some might even say that the future has already arrived.