Short film: the future of Augmented Reality?

Some students have made a great short film that might portend the scary-but-awesome future of augmented reality tech.

Eran May-raz and Daniel Lazo, graduate students at the Bezaleal Academy of Arts in Jeruselem, created a spectacular sci-fi short film with high production values and visionary concepts that extrapolate current tech trends and ponders how technology could become so pervasive it would virtually replace ordinary human vision. The film is appropriately called “Sight”.

Watch the short film “Sight” below:

Augmented Reality technology is one of those things that make science fiction not so much like fiction. The Google Glass project could potentially give us a huge step forward in the AR arena, but the technology in this video takes things to a whole new level. Imagine a world we all have Internet-connected contact lenses that overlay context-sensitive information on our field of vision. You’d no longer need a TV – just use your eyes to open your streaming video program, stare at a blank wall, and the video plays right there. Look at a building and instantly see information about its history and the businesses inside it. It’s crazy to think of the applications of AR in the future and this little movie showcases what we might be dealing with in 20 years or so, and the film does it with the panache and creepiness of a well-directed sci-fi movie. One aspect I really find interesting is how the directors focused on the “gamification” of everyday activities, including chopping vegetables.

For me, being a geek, engineer, and pedantic bastard – the video raises a number of technical questions about the advances we’ll have to make in order to make this kind of stuff a reality. For example:

  • Those contact lenses must have some kind of wireless Internet connection, but where would it come from? We’ve gotten really good at miniaturizing wireless chipsets, but what we see here would require some major advances. Perhaps the lenses speak (via BlueTooth or something similar) to another device, like a smartphone, which in turn does all the heavy Internet stuff.
  • All this intensive display and analysis is bound to generate some kind of heat. How would we keep our eyeballs from frying?
  • How does the system handle audio? Are there tiny headphones we’re not seeing here, or would we have to develop some freaky technology that translates tiny vibrations in our eyes into sound we can recognize?

“Sight” is an intriguing (and creepy) look into what our future might be. Like all good sci-fi, it throws down some inspiring challenges for the technologists who will build the next big thing, but it also provides some warnings of what might happen if our society isn’t quite ready for these innovations.

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