By Mohamed AlJuneibi (@maljunaibi)
Last year, I remember downloading an application on my Google Android phone called: Layar. Layar is an amazing browser application that runs with the camera of your phone device. What makes this browser special is that it deploys a concept known as “Augmented Reality” or AR. Basically, AR is a concept where the camera of a device (in this case your standard mobile phone), merges with the browser to view the output from the camera with various information and data being display simultaneously as the camera is on.
What made this all the more intriguing for me was that the application, Layar, had the feature of installing certain plug-ins that integrate with other applications on your phone. An example of this was a plug-in that enabled users to track other twitter accounts within the geographical range of 500 Meters. I will be the first to admit that I thought it was all a novelty. But as it turned out, it did discover twitter accounts in and around my neighborhood. Interestingly enough, I was able to later become good friends with the people I had added via this small, yet significantly interesting layer.
AR is the future that many people (myself included) wanted. The ability for a person to be able to observe his/her surroundings and have a constant feed of information that describes the situation, temperature, background information, and other dimensions that were not readily available for that person.
Can you imagine the positive things that can happen here?
Imagine you going to your boss’s office one day asking for some help or advice. A lot of times, people (including managers) forget some of the important aspects that any relationship (in this case: manager and employee) builds on. Your manager needs you to help achieve the company’s objectives. You need your manager to help you reach those objectives and to play an important leading role in your career. Imagine your manager being able to analyze (while you explain your work or situation) the stress levels in your body, the amount of heartbeats during the meeting (and whether it is above or below average). It definitely sounds funny but if you were that manager, how would having those information and data affect your overall decision-making process?
Would you have been more lenient and kind towards your employee with higher stress levels? Would you have suggested a vacation had you seen that the person in front of you was showing key signs of mental stress or fatigue?
The world of AR is vastly becoming an area researchers are making significant progress in. One day, people would be able to purchase glasses and have an analytical data reader installed to it. It will look like the Terminator movies! Well, close enough.
While this information at our disposal may seem beneficial for most of our day to day lives, it can also become a future dependency for people. While it is ok to be able to see things in a much more contextual and factual manner, it is also important to stress the importance of critical thinking within a society that uses AR.
“The risk is that we lose sight of the larger picture of how ideas connect and can inform each other. In these circumstances we need more than access to information and ideas: we need ways of engaging with them, of making connections, of seeing principles and of relating them to our own experiences and identities. This too has important implications for the culture of organizations.”
Critical thinking helps in enabling people to raise better questions and to look at a situation with an even deeper thought to the question proposed. As technology begins to play the role of visionary (in that they now challenge the eyes that we already possess), it is worth noting the importance of understanding what makes such technology (like AR) possible.
Whenever a particular area of the human mind is compromised, there is a good chance that it has been already substituted with an automated solution. In order to prove my point, I only need to use one classic example: the calculator.
 The Rise of the Specialist (The negative aspect):
June 2011’s issue:
Here We Start – Community Talk – Food for Thought – Just Another Undergrad
Living Through The Eyes of Art – Microscopic Me – Scenes From Life
Society of Tomorrow – To The Point – Words, Observations, and Ramblings
Mohamed enjoys reading literature and political commentary, with a love for Sci-Fi reading and writing. He’s also a big Formula 1 fan, and also heads the Mercedes GP UAE Fan Club based in Abu Dhabi.
Latest posts by Mohamed Al Jneibi (@maljunaibi) (see all)
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