I want to begin this week’s blog by pretentiously asking “what does it really mean to see?” Normally, questions such as this annoy me, as I never usually understand why people ask complex questions regarding problems with seemingly simple answers. “What does it mean to see?” … “Using your eyes, idiot.” This is of course an immature, ill-reasoned response. Someone who is blind, for instance, may not be able to use their eyes, but this just means that they see and experience the world in a different way. The key word here is “different.” Just because the way a blind person sees the world isn’t the same as someone with 20/20 vision doesn’t mean that their reality isn’t just as real.
So where does virtual and augmented reality fit into all this? I see it as simply a different way of seeing. Havens describes AR technologies such as Google Glass as being a “shortcut” (very much in a positive sense) and a “profound” one at that. It can provide unparalleled technological immediacy to our interactions with the world around us, and possibly change the nature of communication. This is a just possibility, however. To me, Google Glass looks like nothing more than a GoPro with internet access.
A far more important technological advancement, in my eyes at least (pardon the pun), is that of the invention of a bionic eye which could potentially grant normal sight to those with blindness. These bionic eyes are very much machines, working with chips and algorithms, so would a person with two bionic eyes be experiencing augmented reality or reality? This just goes to show how mutable the concept of reality really is.
Gannon, M 2012, ‘An Artificial Eye That Can See?’, viewed 10th April 2013, http://www.livescience.com/22373-an-artificial-eye-that-can-see.html
Havens, J 2013, ‘The Impending Social Consequences of Augmented Reality’, viewed 10th April 2013, http://mashable.com/2013/02/08/augmented-reality-future/