I Told My Mother About My ARReading Time: 4 minutes
Coming out of a closet
Once my mother — a retired librarian asked me what I do nowadays. She knew I’m a serial entrepreneur so the question was about what my latest startup does. “My latest company Immersal is all about AR” I answered causally and at the same time realized that I had just stepped into a bit longer discussion than intended. So it begun: “What is this AR and what is it used for?”, she asked without knowing the burden of proof she had just placed on my relatively narrow shoulders.
“Well…” I begun, “It’s Augmented Reality.” She stared me with interest so I continued. “It’s also called Mixed reality sometimes, depends a bit.” Staring continued. “It’s when you mix digital elements to the real reality so that they seem to be part of it” I elaborated. “Like e.g. you could place a digital game character in the middle of a real, physical street and it would seem to really be there.” “Sounds nice”, said my mother, “but how in the world could you do that?” “Well, there are many options. For example I could temper with your phone’s camera software to make the digi dude appear seamlessly and live to your camera image.” “So when I try to take a photo of the street the digi dude ruins it?” asked my ma. “Exactamundo!” I said and my mother seemed satisfied. Except…
“There’s no reason for you to ruin perfectly good photographs, young Mister.” rebuked my mother and I was feeling defenceless – a child again.. “There are good uses for it, too”, I said, “E.g. I could draw navigation routes on top of your live camera image and you could find places easily.” “You mean like this?” asked my mother and raised her old Nokia phone and pretended to watch imaginary navigation routes on top of her 1-bit display. “Yes, just like that.” I rejoiced. We had come to mutual understanding. Except…
The possessed AR shoulder
“But my shoulder starts to hurt if I hold the phone like this for longer than a minute.”, she told me. “Is your company trying to kill me with arthritis pain?”, she asked and I sighed silently — inwards. “Damn you woman!” I said out loud — almost. “Mother, this is just the beginning, there will be AR glasses later on. A bit like your eyeglasses.” “I am wearing contacts and you know it.” she hissed. “There, there now, ma, the contact lens versions are coming, as well as some kind of neural interfaces later on, readily pluggable to your brain.” Mother was silent for a while. Then she said: “Son, you should stop your company. I have seen the Terminator movies.”
“King.” said mother. “What?!” I enquired politely. “King would be nice. The game character you were talking about earlier.” “Oh, I thought you were getting entangled with headings or something”, I said and continued, “Our company Immersal is enabling something called AR Cloud. It means that AR can be experienced anywhere on planet Earth, from skyscrapers to sewers, from homes to retail stores. Everyone can place AR content, interact with it and the content remains there even if you turn off your pho.. Headset!” ” “How in earth could you enable something like that?”, asked mother. “With magic.” I answered and mama seemed happy for a while. Except…
You no good gold digger!
Mother came out of her thoughts. “There’s no such thing as magic my son, you better tell me the truth, have you been doing something immoral? Isn’t your company name!” “Mother, it’s all about technology”, I enlightened her, “There are a couple of requirements to make the AR-anywhere thing work. First of all you need lots of people and phones, but we already got them. Then you need a lot of content, but we got that as well: we have data everywhere around us: maps, weather data, satellite locations, digital models of buildings, discount data from retail, your friends’ whereabouts, tweets etc. One thing is missing, though. A big problem. To blend and anchor the digital content to wanted physical places we will have to know exactly where the phone — or in your case the futuristic headset — is and to what direction it’s pointing. Many many times a second. And then we should have a huge 3D model of the whole planet to compare the phone’s camera images to. But we don’t have that, either.” “I know you couldn’t do it! You shouldn’t have started the company in the first place!”
“Mother, come down!”, I pacified the desperate woman, “We at Immersal know how to fix both issues!” “You mean you have a planetary scale, yet detailed 3D model and you can compare the live feed to it to tell the location and heading of every device all the time? Let me laugh at your company and ideas! Muhahahahaa”, the old woman extorted theatrically — she seemed to have more makeup now. “Yes, we have built a fantastic 3D-scanning software that can actually create the 3D model when you walk around with your standard issue phone… Or AR headset. Badaping, the big old global 3D model is born.” I told the progenitor. “And to make it perfect, we actually have a way of doing what we call anchored tracking. It means understanding the phone’s or headset’s location and heading in real-time. Then the end users create the AR cloud and anyone, anywhere on the planet can enjoy AR.”
“Well young one, looks like you’re ready to take off and ride the consumer AR wave, then. Bet your company will be among the most valuable ones on this to-be-modelled planet, gathering and selling the AR Cloud and all! I bet the valuations will be off-the-roof!”, said my mother and winked, as I did have to pay her to say that. I just love her when she helps with my blogs.