Diary from the future: Augmented Reality, circa 2027

Dear Diary … or should I say, Dear Self? Or Dear Me? After all this time I still don’t know how to address myself here. Maybe I should do as Mark did in his Facebook memoir — “I, the Zuck” was such a stupid title — and just call myself by the first letter of my name. Let’s try that:

Dear J:

Remember when everyone thought the reason for augmented reality was furniture apps and rulers? How quaint. I’m not sure what had me reminiscing all day, since AR is such a central part of our lives now in 2027, but somehow I am – and stepping back, it’s hard to remember what life was like just 10 years ago.

We thought the iPhone was a game changer. I don’t think a decade ago, we would have predicted modern life. Consider my day:

I bought new cables for the holographic TV last week, and I’ll be damned if I could figure out which port to put ‘em in. And why do we still need wires anyway? Is this 2027 or 1927? So first thing this morning, I put on the Vivo-set and dialed up tech support. A remote tech popped up in front of me, asked for permission to see my apartment, and took a quick look with me at the ports. She highlighted the correct one in yellow right there in front of me – I swear I’d tried it earlier – and walked through the settings menu for a sec as well, just to be safe. Remember when you had to call them on the phone? Remember talking on the phone? Sheesh.

bullet train shutterstock

I dressed, put on my newest Google Glasses – Armani somehow makes the best ones? Whoda thunk it? – and headed out the door for the office. Turning around to survey the house, I made a quick scan for any red lights on the window and door locks, and made sure everything was in away mode before heading to the subway.

It was handy when the oven started warning the smoke alarm that the chicken was overdone, but merging all that stuff into an augmented reality environment is even better. I hated checking all those apps – just looking at stuff and getting status updates is an enormous time saver. That said, the UI guys never get this stuff right, do they? The temples of my glasses used to vibrate when alerts came in. Jesus, who thought that would be anything but maddening?

Remember ten years ago when the NYC subway seemed on the verge of collapse? Remember the hundreds of millions the city and state were spending to fix the signaling problems, before someone realized that installing physical signs to notify riders about oncoming trains was … short sighted? Well here in the modern day and age, the AR alert system is a godsend. As I walked to the train this morning, I tapped my glasses to bring up my agenda, and noted that the next train was just 2 minutes off. Perfect timing. I stepped onto the platform just as the train pulled in, each car emitting a faint glow to indicate how full it was. They all looked angry red – some things just can’t be fixed, I guess.

Each car emitted a faint glow to indicate how full it was. They were all angry red.

Later at work, I was daydreaming again. It’s that adult education class I’ve been taking on Mars – both about the planet and set on the planet, thanks to all of those images NASA’s Musk Rover has been beaming back in 16K 3D. People used to sit at a desk and watch videos or slideshows – now we have fully immersive worlds to visit. It’s one thing to see a video of those sand storms we discovered, and another thing entirely to walk through one.

The same thing happened to grade schools, of course. I don’t know what got me thinking about 2017, when those folks at Case Western first started talking about AR in classrooms, but those guys were pioneers. Remember when Google Chromebooks first took over the classroom? The shift to AR systems was even more abrupt – and frankly, a lot more transformative.

But anyway.

I stopped by the library on the way home, bypassing the books and heading straight for the AR section. Whoever AR’d the encyclopedia deserves a medal – I swear, I could get lost for hours in any of those volumes. I spent half an hour finishing the section on Sumeria earlier in the week, for whatever reason. It must have been that holo-doc I watched on Hulu that got me craving knowledge, I suspect. So I grabbed one of their free Oculus 2.0 units to dig further in, flashing back on the first version – man it took those guys years to get that stuff out of beta, huh? What is this, Gmail or something? LOL, as we used to say.

You can only spend so long doing that, of course, so I headed home, dialing back the noise from the stores I passed. You used to bitch about website ads, remember? AR ads are just the worst. YOU HAVE NO IDEA.