Augmented Reality as Master

Below is a recently released student film that seems far more interesting that the Google’s Project Glass.  Some of the highlights are at 1:15, where the real-world environment is turned into a game, and the main talking point at 3:07 – when the dating app comes in.

Sight from Sight Systems on Vimeo.

However, despite the unsettling ending (which you might expect from Science Fiction) the reference to Master in the title of this post isn’t Master-Slave.  It’s in reference to Augmented Reality’s potential uses in the Master-Apprentice relationship – learning under individually tailored, guided instruction.

The dating assistance provided is a little seedy in itself, but even in science fiction there are positive examples.  In the Void Trilogy (Peter F. Hamilton), social programs offer socially inept characters advice on how to respond in interactions.  But far from being purely fiction, there are already some examples of how, for example, recognising emotions from facial expressions could help people on the autism spectrum (who might otherwise miss the cues).

There are also opportunities in non-lecherous manual tasks.  Several researchers have shown the potential for AR in assembly tasks (Tang et. al, 2003; Hou & Wang, 2011; Henderson & Feiner, 2011).  Although initially Lego-focused, there is an increasing move towards more real-world examples, such as in the video below (admittedly not the slickest example, but it is doing some clever things):

A question might be, do people actually learn to do the task under such direct instruction.  A brief search hasn’t shown up any research directly addressing that question, although AR simulations have shown to be useful in training for medical procedures (Yeo et. al, 2011).  Do you learn a route when following satnav instructions?

2 thoughts on “Augmented Reality as Master

  1. Ha – watch out for the next generation of AR Zombies, along with existing generations of iPod and mobile phone zombies. Will this mean people engage even less with others – will people just become puppets / robots of the AR master machine?

    In terms of learning, it’s easy to see how AR can be helpful for some tasks. Though it’ll depend on the quality of the apps too, just like e-learning does 🙂

  2. I’ll try to avoid drifting into a conversation on free will, but there would probably be grey areas in these systems. If we consider the emotion recognition system being used by a person with Asperger’s syndrome, then a message of “This person appears angry” is quite different from “This person appears angry, you should move away from them”.

    In terms of training though, it would be more like having a teaching assistant for every student. The initial acquisition of manual skills is always going to be a bit mechanical, and it would be best to have a real expert on-hand to fine-tune and explain why.

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