Pokémon Go is officially a phenomenon which has everyone – both young and old – using their smartphones to engage in good old-fashioned scavenger hunts for colorful creatures who seemingly inhabit the world around us. But this isn’t your grandparents folksy rummage through parks and backyards. Instead, Pokémon Go is but the latest advancement in the augmented reality space, which relies on smartphone amenities like location tracking and cameras to give players a digital escape without being confined to one’s home – like in the case of interacting with next-generation consoles like the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
While AR is getting all sorts of press for its applications as it relates to gaming, the fashion and retail industries were some of the first using the cutting-edge technology.
Sometimes exponential technologies hide in plain sight. Their innovation speed, market size, and number of practical uses seem to be progressing linearly, until suddenly they tilt upwards and turn on... read more
This week on Crave we go diving with the Navy's new Diver Augmented Vision Display, which is sadly not for playing Pokemon Go; take a test flight with the Omnicopter and its 6 degrees of freedom in flight; and what's this googly-eyed purple thing...
In his 1963 book God and Golem, the founder of the cybernetics movement Norbert Wiener suggested a compelling thought experiment. Imagine cutting off someone’s hand, he wrote, but leaving intact the key muscles and nerves. Theoretically, a prosthesis could connect directly both to nerves and muscles, giving the subject control of the replacement organ as if it were real.
So far so sensible: this scenario was a reasonable extrapolation at the time, and is close to becoming a reality today. Wiener, however, went further. Having imagined an artificial hand able to replace its original, he wondered why we should not now imagine the addition of an entirely new kind of limb or sensory organ? “There is,” he wrote, “a prosthesis of parts which we do not have and which we never have had.” There was no need to stop at nature. Human-machine integration could in theory blur its boundaries well beyond replacement.
It’s 14 July 2016, and between typing this paragraph and the last I dashed outside with my iPhone to catch a Pokémon lurking next to a tree (a cute orange lizard: Charmander, weight 8.5kg, height 0.6m).
What would Wiener have made of this? I suspect he would have been delighted. While I’m playing Pokémon, my smartphone functions much like a sensory prosthesis. In order to move my avatar around a map, I must move myself. When I get close enough to a target, I hold the device up and through its camera see something superimposed on the world that would otherwise be invisible. It’s like having a sixth sense. My Pokémon-gathering escapades place me somewhere between a cyborg and a stamp collector.
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