Augmented reality in practice
In addition to shopping, there are other practical applications too. Museums, in recent years, have undergone many changes, due to a policy they call the “new museology doctrine”. Put simply, telling stories about exhibits holds the interest of the visitor in a way that no label or dry wall of text can – ‘edutainment’, if you will. Unsurprisingly, The British Museum is ahead of the curve in this department, supplying kids with a dedicated tablet computer enabling them to interact – and thus be taught – by a game called ‘A Gift for Athena’ that rewards investigation and encourages further activity. Perhaps a little worrying for those concerned with privacy (although in reality it’s at worst mostly harmless) is the EU’s CHESS project. A snappy name to hide a clumsy title, the Cultural Heritage Experiences through Socio-personal interactions and Storytelling program will match your persona to an event or exhibit in the hope of providing you with a more tailored and engaging visit. You’ll be profiled from a set of pre-determined personas based on ethnographic information, surveys and assumptions based on age and sex. If you show little interest in interacting on a certain subject, or if you visit some items more than others, CHESS will tailor a new itinerary on the fly.
Much of the technology is currently underpinned by ‘wearables’ such as headgear. The Oculus Rift is widely touted as being the next big thing in gaming, offering 360° vision and an immersive gaming experience. This blurs the line between practicality and insanity for some people. If you think you looked funny trying on clothes in the middle of a shop, or a bit of a fool wearing the glasses, imagine how you’ll look to your family, flailing around the living room, screaming and trying to fight the air. Imagine when you first saw someone shouting at nobody until you realized they had a Bluetooth set on. It will be worse than that. Much worse. Overall, the technology is a winner but not everybody is going to look cool.