Changing the world without changing a thing.
You are driving down the great American highway. Countless rows of chain restaurant signs appear. Haphazard in their cadence, existing only for a brief moment in time then flashing out of peripheral vision. Lane dividers appear to shoot below the vehicle’s tires like the opening crawl of a pretty decent space movie. A seemingly infinite supply of billboards advertise a different slice of life with amazing savings at every exit.
Why does any of this exist?
Well my boy, there are powers that be named capitalism, its necessary friend advertising, and of course driver safety. Ok, I get it. But what will existence mean really soon?
Without question VR and AR are racing into our everyday field of view. Magic Leap, Hololens, Google Glass(rip for now), Oculus Rift are stepping stones into how humanity will see and interact with the future.
For the ideas henceforth lets make an affordance for a moment that there is a brand new device call The Projector. It is as ubiquitous as the smart phone (Think Black Mirror) and it is expected that everyone has access to one. This Projector contains many pieces of technology.
It can map digital projections onto objects that actually exist or into thin air for the user. Similar to the cinematic technique match motion but processed and projected to the user in real time.
The Projector is connected to the internet at all times.
There is an alternate virtual world that can be mapped on top of our very real physical world. Lets call this “Digital Film”.
The device is always on and always powered.
So… if thisProjector actually existed how would this change reality as we know it?
Take for example the chunk of glass, rare earth metals, and plastic you are reading this on.
Does it matter that the actual device is projecting an interface on a backlit screen, that itself is responding to your gestures and key presses? What you are looking at could very well just be a physical affordance digitally mapped on and powered by The Projector.
A physical object that is mapped with Digital Film.
The race for a thinner laptop would stop. Any smooth surface attached to 104 individual keys could become a laptop. Or as the iPad has showed us those keys don’t even have to exist with any physical affordance. The processes and graphics would be computed in the cloud and merely drawn by The Projector. Any surface in the world could become your iPhone. And the best part is you are the only one who can see it. Or if you are with a group of friends, the Projectors could link and interact with digital film. Sure, this may fill the world with people looking like poorly trained mimes but at least products wouldn’t need to be mass produced by the lowest bidder at a human cost. (Except The Projectors of course)
Anything physical in the environment that does not rely on tactile human feedback could be replaced by Digital Film. The world could start to transition back to the way it looked before humanity started fucking with it. This Digital Film could potentially be the chosen and preferred way to augment our physical world. If your projector could map the physical world into your vision would we even need to install streetlights? Humans could potentially see in the dark. Bye bye light pollution.
We’ve pulled back onto the highway again. The lanes are more vibrant, visible in any weather condition even under snow. They are constantly shifting to an invisible algorithm easing traffic and prevent accidents. The advertisements would float in the air without the need for tons of metal and printed material wasted with every new media spend. They also are targeted and relevant to your needs as a consumer. The physical restaurants would still exist, but I’ve already glanced at their menus out of the corner of my eye. That big kahuna burger looks mighty tasty.