Defining moments

Defining AR and Historic trail

We construct our reality around us through language. Language shapes and contains our ideas and our meanings. When I tell someone about my project, the person I’m talking to makes assumptions about what I do because of the associations or definitions that “design” or “interaction” or “animation” has. There is an enormous realm even within these words, and to place myself and my project in these, I find it practical to come to terms (at least for myself first) of what it is I’m talking about, and what I am interested in.

To construct the reality of my project, I want to define what aspect of reality I’m interested in, and what reality means for this project (just getting into definitions of reality is opening a pandora box that has been opened for centuries. Don’t wanna meddle there!). In the same way, I want to explore where the augmented bit comes in.

There is a language, and there is a design language and an interaction language. By finding (and defining) more precise words to name what I’m interested in, and what this project is about, I am constructing the foundation of it, and the core concept that will give me the basis for finding “that something” I want to tell, that *great idea*: the why beyond the how. On the other hand, what we can find out there seems focused on the how (technological jargon) rather than the why. Also, it seems that in some references (like James Kent Augmented Reality Handbook–that looks more like a phonebook in size–) Wikipedia’s definition is being used over and over again.

This reflects the way people react when you mention Augmented Reality these days. We think of a marker (the black square and white squares with shapes on it), and 3D modeling, and, of course, screens. Ipads, Iphones, laptops…

James Kent’s compillation references the Wikipedia entry that reads:

 “Augmented reality (AR) is a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. It is related to a more general concept called mediated reality, in which a view of reality is modified (possibly even diminished rather than augmented) by a computer. As a result, the technology functions by enhancing one’s current perception of reality. By contrast, virtual reality replaces the real world with a simulated one.”

And we find this definition over and over in most places. In Handbook for Augmented Reality, Borko Furht says that:

“Augmented reality aims at simplifying the user’s life by bringing the virtual information not only to his immediate surroundings, but also to any indirect view of the real-wold environment, such as live-video stream. AR enhances the user’s perception of and interaction with the real world. While Virtual Reality (VR) technology or Virtual Environment as called by Milgram, completely immerses users in a synthetic world without seeing the real world, AR technology augments the sense of reality by superimposing virtual objects and cues upon the real world in real time. “

 I find Tony Mullen’s definition, from Prototyping Augmented Reality, more concise and right to the point though:
“The term augmented reality (AR) is used to describe a combination of technologies that enable real-time mixing of computer-generated content with live video displays. Traditionally, it is distinguished from virtual reality (VR) in that VR involves creating complete, immersive 3D environments, and AR uses various hardware technologies to create an annotated, or “augmented” composite based on the real world. “
I am interested in defining and finding meaning for myself on what I mean by reality, by augmented and by interaction (engagement sounds like a better term for me, as it involves surprise, interest, reflection, and the feeling of time standing still).

Another way I want to explore this, is by doing a sort of historic trail, that is relevant to my project and that has these definitions/language as a conceptual framework. We have enhanced or augmented what’s on our hands while having a microscope, telescope, etc. This personal project “timeline” can serve to dwell into the core concepts of AR (and how people have related to it throughout time) and to perhaps explore augmented reality before/beyond/without the code, as a parallel path or alternative.