Digital/Online Marketing Communications Strategy

What’s Wrong With Being Real?

By on September 8, 2009 in commentary, trends with 0 Comments

Last week I posted a piece about trends that are getting lots of attention. Which, in case you missed it, are real-time web, crowdsourcing and latent semantic indexing.

Another trend I thought about including is augmented reality.

digital visionA greater reality

If you break it down linguistically, there’s “augmented,” which according to the American Heritage Dictionary means “to make (something already developed or well under way) greater, as in size, extent, or quantity.” And there’s “reality,” defined as “the quality or state of being actual or true.”

Basically you’re making something that’s actual and true even greater.

007 would love it

One consumer-friendly version of this futuristic innovation applies to next-generation electronics, where if you point a device that’s augmented reality-equipped, it instantly processes what’s being viewed and sends graphics and text specific to that scene. Point the gizmo while standing outside a restaurant (for some reason restaurants are a common example to illustrate this advancement) and you get the skinny on the eatery; a view of the interior, menu, reviews and hours of business.

In another iteration, when you walk though a historic site, as you amble around, the apparatus continuously provides a video-version of what happened way back when, superimposed over the real environment.

The military is hot for augmented reality and there’s talk of serious applications for science.

A tracking device, too?

It’s a ways off till all this hits the market. And while clearly an intriguing concept, which I’m admittedly over-simplifying, augmented reality represents yet another means of digitally tracking our movements: One more instance where we’re giving up privacy for the sake of cool technology.

GPS systems are great, however details that get collected and analyzed in order to give us the information we want are also a record of our travels.

We acknowledge that there’s ultimately no privacy on the web. We can clean our cache and crumble our cookies, but the data remains on a server somewhere.

Give to get

Search engines accept our queries and then display ads based on our input. Our seemingly private emails are processed. I was both humored and surprised a few weeks ago after sending a message to a pal whose nickname is Beanie, when beside her reply, my gmail client dished up ads for bean bags and beanie hats.

One common defense for the latter intrusions is that search and gmail are free services. The quid pro quo is that they get to turn us into chunks of data to mine for advertising and other purposes. It’s out in the open. I get it. It still creeps me out.

Keep it real

The promise of augmented reality is exciting. The privacy trade-off gives me the willies. Makes me wonder, what’s wrong with being real?

– Deni Kasrel

Are you concerned about how new technology affects privacy? Your comments welcome.

Related post:

Three Fast Growing Trends You Need To Pay Attention To


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About the Author

About the Author: Deni Kasrel is seasoned (slightly spicy) specialist in digital/online communications. .


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  1. LaNeshe says:

    Regarding the ending question, I am concerned, but like most people, the convenience and entertainment of technology’s growth seems to overshadow my fear. Interesting post!

  2. John says:

    Very interesting post. I am very concerned about privacy. Neat toys is one of the biggest problems with trying to protect our privacy. As technology gets more integrated in our lives it becomes so much more difficult to set the boundaries that we need to in order to keep our lives somewhat private. There are so many ways that we can ‘shoot ourselves in the foot’ today. With social networking and blogs we run the risk of posting something that can be detrimental to our careers or freedom. People worry about GPS tracking and RFID Tags yet almost everyone already carries a two way GPS tracking device, the ubiquitous cellphone. Unlike some conspiracy theorists I don’t necessarily believe that every new thing is created with a nefarious purpose but the risk is never far away that someone of will use it in a way that would give anyone the willies, whether it’s someone in the government or some hacker looking to make a buck. Google project Natal, Microsoft’s bid to make a controller-less video game. It basically uses a motion capture camera to interpret body motions to control the game. Everyone will want one, yup even me, but doesn’t a camera sitting on top of your tv and connected to the internet sound just a little Orwellian?

    • Deni Kasrel says:

      I totally agree that the majority of new advances are not intended to invade our privacy. Still, it is often a by-product/reality of a new cool tool. And as you point out, there are consequences to more and more convergence between them all.

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