There’s no doubt that gamers obsessed with playing Pokémon Go will end up walking into trees, stepping off curbs into traffic, and getting mugged at PokéStops in shady locations. And some moron will inevitably play while skateboarding, bike-riding or driving. It sounded like a good idea at the time. Right.
Online games are addictive. They just are. And not just augmented reality (AR) video games. Pokémon Go isn’t really my thing but I am crazy about Scrabble. My wife is into Sudoku. Everyone’s got something. But the more immersive the game, the more addictive it is. That’s why AR scares the crap out of me, at least in terms of gaming.
When the virtual world becomes more immersive and fun than the real world, what then? Where does it lead? Do we all end up as sedentary blobs, wasting away in virtual fugue states while attached to tubes that feed us intravenously and dispose of our waste?
If you’re into sci-fi, think Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash meets Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End. A chill just went down my spine. You too?
Did you know that Stephenson actually works for AR startup Magic Leap? That’s right. The Metaverse, coming soon.
On the lighter side, in case you’re wondering about the notion of transparent phones – you know, so you don’t have to worry so much about walking into and off of things – forget it. It’s a long way off.
Don’t get me wrong. There have been prototypes. They do exist, but only as novelties.
The problem with transparent LCD and even new OLED displays is the contrast. It sucks. And if you turn up the backlight to improve contrast, it also eats up the battery life. I’m sure it’ll happen someday, but not on the near-term horizon.
I’ll tell you one thing, though. If you’re younger than a senior citizen, there’s a damn good chance you’re going to live to see some pretty cool stuff that you couldn’t even imagine today. Guess it won’t be long before we find out just how ready we are for an augmented reality world. Stay tuned.