Picture: Thomas Van Bouwel
Every night, I take a peek into the future of Augmented Reality. I find it amazing – and it makes me think.
These days, I’ve found a new occupation that I find exhilarating: I sit down in the evening with my Meta Quest 2 and put together puzzle pieces floating in space to form geometric figures. This is accompanied by classical piano music.
The puzzle pieces don’t appear on the TV, my smartphone, or in a virtual world. No, they float in the living room, right in front of me. And I can grab and move them with my hands and fingers. Controllers or gamepads? Superfluous. If a stone is unreachable, I pull it toward me with a simple gesture, as casually as a Jedi from Star Wars.
Cubism: A wonderful AR experience
With its new AR mode and smooth hand tracking, Cubism shows what the future of Augmented Reality holds like no other game, precisely because of its simplicity and elegance and the fact that it fits so beautifully into everyday life.
Cubism doesn’t bring the physical environment into the game, it brings the game into the physical environment. And my brain readily accepts this illusion of digitally Augmented Reality without effort, even with the grainy black-and-white camera image of Meta Quest 2.
Nowadays, you have to put on bulky VR goggles for such an experience, but corresponding devices will soon be lighter, more convenient, and more powerful. If Meta, Apple, and Microsoft succeed in further miniaturizing the technology, it could become commonplace in this or similar forms.
Augmented Reality is just around the corner
Cubism is just the beginning, of course, a narrow window into the future of Augmented Reality. Its astonishing effectiveness raises questions about where the technology might one day take us.
The smartphone is said to confer superpowers. We can access all of humanity’s knowledge from anywhere at any time, connect and converse with people on the other side of the world, and navigate unerringly to any location. No wonder we carry these devices around with us all the time and feel helpless when we lose them.
Augmented Reality could potentiate these superpowers, but so could our dependence on technology. Will we feel robbed of our options if we forget or misplace our AR glasses at home and find pure physical reality gray and bleak?
It’s a troubling question and notion as old as science fiction, but nowhere near as surreal and futuristic as we think.
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