Sunday, November 16, 2008

Augmented Reality

Augmented reality is a new technology that brings real and virtual objects together. You really have to see it in action before you can begin to understand it (if video doesn't show, click here):

Your first impression from that video might be "Oh a hologram!" But no, it's not a hologram. The gadget, created by Geisha Tokyo Entertainment Inc., comes with two "cybercubes" and two "cybersticks." You aim your webcam at these real objects, and the software renders video of virtual Alice responding to your taps and... umm... touches.

Ok, if your first impression was not amazement over new technology, then maybe it was bewilderment over stripping, touching, and paddling a four inch tall virtual girl who cries like a child then collapses into a fetal position.

Of course I'm a fan of video games, virtual worlds, and new technologies, but this cyber geisha is disturbing. Maybe it's her submissiveness and distress followed by sudden happiness over a mere teddy bear? What kind of guy has these fantasies? Or maybe I should ask how many guys have these fantasies?

I'm not naive. I've had my own forays into the red light districts of Second Life, but ultimately those online trysts are with consenting humans on a cyber landscape. A computer controlled girlfriend can be as cutesy and unreal as any geek can imagine...

... or maybe I am naive to deny that our imaginations have long been the stage for these fantasies before the technology caught up? The $57 billion worldwide pornography industry drives many new technologies. So today we see cyber geisha, and tomorrow maybe we'll see a new generation of The Sims, or maybe even something practical.

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