We’ve seen Google’s Project Glass and Microsoft’s immersive mobile Xbox. We’ve even seen a new Apple patent arise showcasing a model for HUD glasses. With the big three involved, augmented reality is undoubtedly on its way. But how will it look? How will it feel? And where do we draw the line between the analog world and the digital one?
Sight is a short by Israeli student filmmakers Eran May-raz and Daniel Lazo that explores the potential of augmented reality. The short took the team 3.5 months of shooting, editing and post production, and it’s full of ideas–some good, some bad, but almost all seemingly possible–that show where augmented reality could go if we society continues its unbridled addiction with gamification, social networking and Wikipedia.
“We were inspired by many current day apps and several sc-fi movies. But most of the ideas came from us trying to visualize a world where this tech is standard and what kind of interactions can happen in it,” Lazo tells Co.Design. “We tried to create interfaces that were believable. I’m very much into fancy complex interfaces, but not to the point where it hinders the viewer’s understanding of the shot. So we tried to carefully tread that fine line of making it look real and pretty, and at the same time communicate with the viewer effectively.”
Lazo is right. The visuals are incredibly easy to grasp, with a cooking app that looks straight out of iOS and dating achievements that seem at home on any gaming console. The short’s UIs are a perfect half-step removed from current day technologies, making them great fodder for sci-fi.
But it’s the human elements that they nail–the dual appeal and superficiality of these AR apps–when chopping a cucumber or having a conversation has to become a quantifiable game or skill. A particular moment of brilliance occurs about three minutes in during the date scene. I’m not talking about the UI here. Listen to the cadence of the actors’ dialog. It’s the antithesis of Sorkin rapidfire repartee, as every response prompts a “let me look this up on my phone” information check.
If augmented reality succeeds, we’ll know pretty much anything we want about anything we look at. We’ll be able to remember names through facial recognition, learn skills through integrated coaching and watch YouTube on 100-inch TVs mounted anywhere imaginable. But whether or not these experiences allow us to appreciate the world as perpetual students or tempt us to trivialize the world as persistent gamers (complete with ads!) is the greatest design challenge of the foreseeable future.