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Smoke Signals: Community and Empathy in an Augmented World
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Smoke Signals: Community and Empathy in an Augmented World

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Whether it’s wearables, like smart contact lenses and skin tattoos collecting biometrics, apps that integrate contextual signals like Swarm, or the full on vision of visual, gesture driven augmented …

Whether it’s wearables, like smart contact lenses and skin tattoos collecting biometrics, apps that integrate contextual signals like Swarm, or the full on vision of visual, gesture driven augmented and virtual reality, one of the keys for the augmented world to move from niche experience to a cultural movement may be coding into our systems ways to enhance empathy and new playful social identities; so augmented reality can enhance our connected empathic selves - our moods, feelings, hopes, fears, dreams, and compassion as well as our discrete, singular, data constructed selves.

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  • Hi, I’m Tish Shute, Co-Founder with Ori of AR.org & Augmented World Expo (augmentedworldexpo.com), and a member of the founding team at Syntertainment (syntertainment.com). Thank you Ori for that excellent overview of the theme for AWE2014 - making the world more interactive!
    Its a common place that Augmented Reality is about who you are, where you are, and what you are doing. The what and where part of the AR equation has seen a lot of development in the last few years, but I have always been most interested in how AR will change who we are and what new social identities will emerge. Smoke signals are one of the oldest forms of visual long-distance communication, they are the original status update, and the simplicity and power of this primal form of augmented reality has things to teach us even today.
  • I first heard Dennis Crowley mention Poor Man’s Augmented reality a few years ago when he pointed out a buzz in your pocket might augment reality better than something directly in your visual field. Swarm is the fullest expression of this idea I’ve seen to date.
  • My interest in poor man’s augmented reality does not exclude my fascination with even the most far reaching visions of AR. But at the moment we are, clearly living in the “age of context” not the “age of augmented reality” quite yet. Robert Scoble’s keynote next, “The Age of Context,” will tell us more about this I’m sure..

    I know quite a few people here attended the Neurogaming Conf. - it really was an important event in relation to this one as neurogaming technologies live on the same near future horizon as AR and VR.
    Palmer Luckey, founder of Oculus Rift, responded to a question about when the full vision for neurogaming, AR and VR might be realized, saying that it may well be many years away. But right now when working, “it is tempting to add in a feature that works 90%, 80% or even 50% of the time because it’s cool when it works, but when it doesn’t work it’s going to ruin the experience….it isn’t about adding things on a feature list, adding more and more things that you can do, its about making sure that the overall experience is something that your user can believe in.”
  • It is interesting how retro some of the leading edge VR and AR technologies can look and this is not just because these technologies are familiar to most people through old movies. The similarity of Descartes’ 19th century illustration of the mechanism of mind body dualism with current AR and VR approaches to solving the hard problem of an augmented reality visual interface doesn’t yet reveal an approach to contextual signals that could change our conception of social identities. But I expect the speakers in the Interactive World Visions session next will show us the way!
  • Ed Fries, Co-Creator of Xbox, pointed out at Neurogaming Conf and Expo that “The things that really matter are the most difficult to predict.” He noted that he was at Microsoft when the world wide web took off and it definitely caught people by surprise. No-one had been thinking about the notion “that all the computers in the world would spontaneously connect to each other.”
  • In addition to the progress being made on “strong AR,” we are beginning to see very new ways of networking emerge, like these Wireless Body Area Networks, that are connecting us at levels not exclusively visual. A French group of researchers are working on new forms of cooperation within and between body sensor networks,’ targeted applications include include “coordinated navigation of groups in buildings or large-scale motion capture for gaming, sports and healthcare”

    “They might even form the skeleton of future distributed cooperative communication networks”.

    http://www.azosensors.com/news.aspx?newsID=6031

  • Last year I saw an article in Forbes on coding empathy into the system. Ashoka pointed out, “that In the industrial era, we lived in a world hallmarked by hierarchies and strict boundaries around companies, organizations, communities, and nations. Today, we are in a globalized, networked, transparent world of fast change, where there are many voices at the table, all speaking at the same time— this simultaneous chatter now includes human and non human voices.

    “Facebook has been experimenting with coding empathy into its social network, changing the way users interact online. Today, if a user has a problem—for example, not liking a photo that someone posted of them—instead of reporting it to headquarters as a complaint, they are given the option of sharing how the photo made them feel with the person who posted it: “This photo made me feel embarrassed,” or “This photo made me feel sad.”…..this approach has had a surprisingly popular response.” (http://www.forbes.com/sites/ashoka/2013/04/24/empathy-part-of-the-new-operating-system-for-our-modern-world/ )


  • In some of the newer social apps like whisper, snapchat, ifunny, and instagram we are seeing how anonymity and communication with strangers can enhance social connectivity in interesting ways. Tricia Wang points out, “sociality veers towards the exploratory, performative, and even fantastical because people tend to socialize with people they do not know. Consequently, we see a wider spectrum of identities emerge on social media sites dominant in the informal mode. In the presence of strangers, individuals feel more liberated to try on different identities without the pressure of committing to just one.” http://triciawang.com/updates/2014/1/26/new-talk-the-elastic-self-understanding-identity-in-social-m.html
  • At the moment body signals are focused primarily on prescriptive, singular and discrete identities and biometrics. But what if we start looking at the potential of these new forms of network for playful, performative social identities?

    http://www.technologyreview.com/news/512061/electronic-sensors-printed-directly-on-the-skin/

    http://motherboard.vice.com/blog/googles-internet-of-things-now-includes-your-body
  • There isn’t enough data to make a chart that divides apps based on the internet of the body up into formal and prescriptive ones on the one hand, and playful and exploratory ones on the other hand like Tricia Wang did for current social media apps. But I think it is interesting to think about the near future of the internet of the body in this way.
  • It’s not stress that kills you but it’s how you view stress that kills. The new science of stress reveals that how you think and act in relation to stress matters. When you believe stress is good for you stress is actually good for your health! https://www.ted.com/talks/kelly_mcgonigal_how_to_make_stress_your_friend#t-455620 And when you reach out to others the hormonal stress response changes and actually becomes a stress recovery agent for your heart. I think Kelly McGonigal makes a strong argument for why exploring the performative, narrative potential for the internet of the body is super interesting! The stories we tell ourselves are more powerful than so called medical facts!
  • As Ori mentioned 2014 was the year of the wearable. Will 2015 be the year of the empathic wearable? Whether it’s wearables, like smart contact lenses or skin tattoos collecting biometrics, or the full on vision of visual, gesture driven augmented reality, one of the keys for augmented reality to move from niche experience to a cultural movement may be coding into our systems ways to enhance empathy and new playful social identities, so augmented reality can enhance our connected empathic selves - our moods, feelings, hopes, fears, dreams, and compassion as well as our discrete, singular, medically constructed selves.
    As you can imagine I can’t wait to hear Hiroshi Ishii’s talk on, Vision-Driven: Beyond Tangible Bits, Towards Radical Atoms, and Tim Chang’s talk on “building the tech-enabled soul” tomorrow. As Bruce Sterling our “prophet of AR,” who sadly couldn’t make it this year, has noted many times, we need to be sure that we augment aspects of reality that are worth augmenting! The emergence of some incredibly useful industrial applications as Ori mentioned has been the major trend this year, but I hope that applications that enhance empathy will be a major trend at AWE2015!

Transcript

  • 1. Smoke Signals Community and Empathy in an Augmented World tish.shute@gmail.com @tishshute
  • 2. Poor Man’s Augmented Reality ..maximizing the usefulness of contextual signals to you without monopolizing your attention.. “What about a location aware app that knows where you and where all of your friends are at all times but is smart enough to know when you want people to know and when you don’t?” @panzer FourSquare’s Swarm (emoji surprise doge from Walter Ellly’s blog)
  • 3. We are still at the very beginning of the augmented age. Descartes’ illustration of the mechanism of mind body dualism. Oculus VR Meta View’s Space Glasses
  • 4. “ … I was at microsoft when the world wide web took off, and it definitely caught people by surprise… ...that all the computers in the world would spontaneously connect to each other.” “…The things that really matter are the most hard to predict….. “
  • 5. Wireless Body Area networks New forms of connectivity and co-operation within and between body sensor networks - CEA -Leti
  • 6. 1990s - Internet of Content 2000s - Internet of People 2010s - Internet of Things 2020s to 2050s - Internet of Human Body? How can we code empathy into the internet of everything?
  • 7. “Different forms of social media encourage different forms of social identity” Tricia Wang. “The Elastic Self”
  • 8. Smart contact lenses with sensors that monitor glucose levels for diabetics. Skin signals: This device, applied directly to the skin, can record useful medical information. Body Signals
  • 9. What kind of exploratory, performative, and playful social identities will emerge with the internet of the body”
  • 10. Kelly McGonigal: How to make stress your friend Can the internet of the body enable performative, playful social identities that have just as much or more potential to heal as medical data on it’s own?
  • 11. Will 2015 be the year of the empathic wearable? In The Future of Wearable Tech, iQ by Intel and PSFK Labs
  • 12. Thank you for coming to AWE2014! tish.shute@gmail.com @tishshute www.syntertainment.com