ACME – One Piece of an Augmented World

The augmented world will exist as a shadow to the real one. 

Rouli from the Augmented Times posted on Friday about the ACME project (Augmented Collaboration in a Mixed Environment.)  Leave it to a group of researchers to suck the life from a wonderful tool by giving it such a drab name as ACME.  And I disagree with Rouli’s assessment that it’s a form of telepresence, its much cooler than that.  My point is not that their descriptions are lacking (and I have nothing better to offer).  It’s more that the technology deserves sexier nom de plume

The video demonstrates the idea that presence need not be tied to our geospatial location.  Nor does our awareness.  An augmented world will allow us to move the focal point of our being to a different location. 

Though the word demonstrate has limitations.  The Mixed Reality Teleconferencing (see english website for more details) ACME project shows us how we can mix reality and the virtual in a boring conference room using Second Life.  Their skill at manipulating these two environments is commendable but unfortunately, Second Life is a not platform that I believe will be a part of the equation in a real open AR world. 

The reason I think Second Life doesn’t work is because it is a seperate world, similar, but unlike ours.  It has virtual ground, trees, buildings, and people, but not in the same location as our own.  Google Earth gives us a 3D representation of our world in the exact proportions we need it.  A GPS position on Google Earth is the same on the real Earth.  Second Life doesn’t have that symmetry with our world. 

Another connection between the augmented and real world can be made using the technology demonstrated by the researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology as they use cameras to integrate real world activity onto Google Earth.  They will also be attending ISMAR09 in a few weeks (maybe these two groups should collaborate?)

The combination of these technologies and a lightweight HMD can give us a way to project ourselves to another location and be aware of changes in that environment.  This will create a world in which time and distance have less meaning.  And while its not going to replace the feeling of walking the streets of Shanghai or exploring the sand dunes around the Great Pyramids, it will certainly make the world feel smaller. 

This augmented world will connect people and places in ways never considered.  Space will be layered with the human spectrum, games will exist across imaginary dimensions and the reach of awareness will be pushed out to a global scale. 

Some may scoff at such thoughts and believe that an augmented world will only create a populous lost in an unreal world suffering within its own delusions.  I offer the doubters this video as proof that “reality” is just a trick of our monkey brains.

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