Welcome to the Mirrorworld
Walking around the AWE exhibit hall, Frank and I were looking for something new to knock our socks off. Coming from a defense background, a lot of the technology at first didn't seem that exciting - we've seen AR and VR for years now on the I/ITSEC floor. Usually, if I'm not impressed in a situation like this, it means I don't know what I don't know, and eventually we figured it out. People were selling stuff on the exhibit hall floor. Not everything, mind you - those Nreal Light AR glasses weren't available to buy - but people were selling products, not the possibility of working together on a multi-million dollar BAA contract in a year. MR is all grown up, and it's authorable, scalable, collaborative, (relatively) affordable, and pretty. It's literally and figuratively easy on the eyes.
The pace of MR hardware development has surpassed ludicrous speed, but what hasn't kept up is content. One corner of the floor was devoted to a "playground," where a number of applications were available to try out. The most interesting demo was a Beat Saber knockoff, but let's be honest, folks, if I can't play Taylor Swift in it I just don't care. One of our challenges will be figuring out what to do with all these cool toys. Luckily, that's what technology is good for; it pushes us to new levels of creativity. The job of video game designer could not exist before there were video games.
This brings me to my favorite part of the conference: a chat between Charlie Fink, who was there promoting his new book Convergence and Kevin Kelly, whose amazing book The Inevitable I recently finished. The focus of the conversation was this article the latter recently wrote for Wired. The idea is that the spread of AR and spatial computing broadly necessitates the development of a digital layer that sits on top of our physical world. He calls this the "Mirrorworld," which is a far more romantic term than the "AR Cloud" but it means basically the same thing. It's a representation of the world and everything in it in machine-readable format. However, unlike our physical world, the Mirrorworld will have context. Read the article if you haven't already. The development of this Mirrorworld is the key to what the Army and other DoD agencies are trying to do with AR. And to think, with every dinosaur picture I post, I'm helping to build it!
Which brings me to my next point: Who owns the Mirrorworld?
We'll discuss that next week!
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