by Royce Copeland, UFSocial Contributor
Imagine this for a moment: you’re strolling down a sundrenched city sidewalk, your mind wandering down a list of subjects ranging from what you still need to get done at the office before the end of the week to whether or not it may rain later on in the day. You’re paying no undivided attention to anything in particular when you think you hear someone calling your name. You look up and focus your eyes on … that guy. “Who in the world is he?” you think. As he closes in, the best you can come up with in your head is he’s that guy from that thing that one time a while back. Greaaat.
Then, just as he’s within about ten feet of you, the facial recognition software in your sunglasses locks in on his face and up pops a display only you can see with his name, his job title, and the last time and place you saw him. Instantly you relax and carry on a spirited, informed conversation like you’ve been friends for years.
You say your goodbyes and the encounter is automatically formatted and ready for instant upload into your Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram feeds. Or perhaps you opt to send it to your personal cloud storage where it’s ready to post later. Either way, it’s still accessible at a moment’s notice – especially for the next time you run into that same guy.
Sound like science fiction? Welcome to the future crossroads of Augmented Reality and social media, where information about the world around you is not only on-demand, it’s waiting for you to share it.
So Just What Is Augmented Reality?
Augmented Reality (AR) functions by drawing upon the virtually infinite resources of the Internet and the latest in technology to provide you with experiences both well above, and far beyond, what you can see with the naked eye. You can think of it as Reality v2.0.
Presently, AR is used mostly for marketing and brand awareness campaigns. But a large part of newly implemented AR today is based on image recognition. Simply aiming your phone at a magazine ad, a poster, or even a building can call up information you never knew existed. Say, for instance, you’d like to know how tall the skyscraper down the block is. Snap a picture and an app scans millions of different photos shot from your GPS location, matches them with your image, and displays nearly everything you’d ever want to know about that building, height included.
Or, how about if you’re travelling abroad and can’t figure out what’s on the menu or read the local road signs? Never fear, Google Translate is here to convert foreign languages, both written and spoken, into English right before your eyes.
With social media user numbers growing every year and more and more wearable tech reaching the mainstream, is combining the two the next obvious step? Contrary to the rumor mill, Google Glass is not dead and that particular technology continues to draw huge funding and interest for research and development. And with tech trends being what they are, there’s no reason to believe that those admittedly awkward looking Google eyeglasses are even anywhere near life support status. Facial recognition software improves by the year, it seems, so why stop now?
As anyone on social media will know, documenting yourself in one fashion or another is practically its lifeblood and with AR use eventually becoming more commonplace, user-generated content created with it is sure to follow. “This is me onstage at the Kanye West concert – right now!” livestreamed on your Twitter feed though Periscope or Meerkat showing you – well, virtual you –somehow dancing right next to Kanye West. Or how about posting your AR-guided tour to the Pyramids of Giza documented with Google Glass photos taken at every major point of interest? Sounds tailor-made for Instagram.
Whatever the future holds social media in the next five or ten years, we’ll obviously just have to wait and see. Chances are it will be something no one’s even thought of, yet. Who knows, maybe facial recognition software will become so sensitive it can pick out the people in the crowd you’d rather avoid. Although not terribly social, wouldn’t that be a nice reality?