2010 will be the year of 3D. In case you missed it. Mistaken by few for a rare kind of mammary affliction, 3D is set, spearheaded by ‘Mr. Titanic’ Cameron’s Avatar, to invade your cinemas, TV’s, laptops, in short: your brain, the last uncharted territory. Admittedly 3D has been around since mammals, allowing them to gauge distances to food, both in the active and passive sense. Mankind’s brain too, has always been a strictly stereoscopic affair, from stories past on from the teller’s mind to rapt listeners’ cortexes, oral and written. Television, and hence regress to a more reptilian-type ‘flat’ world, has been a recent, and if tech marketeers and movie execs can make hay of even a tithe of recent grandstanding, transient phenomenon. A mere blip on the radar screen. Seeing ‘in depth’ is, and has always been the more natural way of experiencing, and interacting with the world. As we speak various competing screen technologies are hitting the market, all featuring a more spectacular type of earlier, blue-and-red cardboard spectacles. Still, 3D applied thus, as will likely be the case in the coming year, won’t produce a revolutionary change in the way people live or work together… Or will it? Hold that thought as we poke a quick thumbnail on the next soon-to-mature whiz-bang thingamajig.

Augmented reality:

I know what you did last summer. No, seriously. I am your mobile phone, and thanks to a GPS and built-in compass, I understand exactly where you are and what you’re looking at, or at least, pointing me to. I can sometimes tell, from your greasy paws on my touch-screen belly, what you had for lunch. If your current phone cannot yet do these things, your next device very likely will, although many a blue moon will have waxed and waned before it’s smart enough to write even a predictable horror movie script. An Englishman in New York? No problem, just point your jesusPhone, Google God, Crackberry, or Palm-twig at any building or landmark, and layered on those live images virtual labels come floating, little pop-ups containing Wikipedia entries, restaurant prices, or tips from fellow-travelers –don’t eat here! Type “nearest post office” and arrows dot the side-walk in case you hadn’t yet wondered what business a smartphone-wielding technoratus might possibly conduct there. Being an ‘augmented’ tourist of course hasn’t the charm of say, unfolding an actual paper map, or taking time on a sunny bench to read a Lonely Paragraph. Fancy doodads don’t mix well with shoestring budgets, which is why tour-guides, and bicycle couriers will arguably be the first to sport a swanky pair of iGlasses when they hit the market, say, late 2011, as will law enforcement personnel, soldiers, engineers, construction workers, and Lance Armstrong on his way to a tenth Tour de France win. You too will soon relent. Fret not. Remember how annoyed you were at the precocious nincompoops prancing around with these newfangled cordless telephones? Nough said.

Imagine, a tourist in Rome, you’re waltzing about on the Via Whatever, observing life-like renderings of awe-inspiring architecture that once was, or a bustling market where currently the sun scorches withered stone and a snapped column or two. Suddenly your phone rings –for it will still do that- You pick up, and right there, on the Forum Ro-friggin-manum appeareth thine interlocutor, depicted impeccably by a corona of forty-ish microscopic cameras and sensors dotted around his or her reality-enhancer. In fact, having nothing better to do, your friend decides to join the tour there and then, seeing what you see through the near-perfect visual cover afforded by your own headset. Afterwards you will retreat to a quiet café to join a meeting in Rio about your company’s new line of add-supported video-diapers, annoying the living bejesus out of fellow-patrons. You wonder how they ever managed to adopt the Euro…

Back into the cloud:

After Rio, you stop over at your folks in Oslo, an ex-girlfriend in Moscow, potential business partners in Beijing, ending the day with an immersive Dinosaur experience on the plains of Patagonia. You wonder why you came to Rome in the first place, if that indeed is where you’re currently located. Physically that is. Half of the time you don’t even know anymore, and care even less. It’s 2015 meanwhile –hey, how’d that happen? You relax for a minute and think of the funny toy someone got you for Christmas six years ago, called Mindflex. It took you a while to get the included headband to pick up the microvolt electricity produced by the three-pound generator called your brain, and shoot a small foam ball through a hoop. Once you got the hang of it though, you were ready for the next step, to move a cursor on your 3D laptop and, get this: “Look ma, no hands.” Monkeys had been doing it for years, but boffins only recently figured a modus operandi that didn’t include power tools and massive blood loss. You were equally awed when a year later you managed to type in words without saying them out loud, or even moving your cursor over a virtual keyboard.

You started off by sending text messages this way, and having other folks’ missives read out to you in a similar fashion. Much like applying a specific ringtone to certain friends, beamed imbedded in their messages a voice sample made those messages appear as actually spoken by them. You used to often switch off this feature on Facebook and Twitter because the frequent messages, and updates threatened to become a cacophony of half-thoughts, beans spilled and unintended insults. Embarrassment galore. Somehow your brain managed to adapt rather quickly. Information conveyed to you now simply lodges somewhere in your awareness, without the noise, nor turning into unintelligible jibberish. In essence, you have become… what was the word again, way back- oh, right, telepathic. You’re practically talking to a couple dozen people at once. Without a word. All the time. At least at work. Although you remember it clearly, you somehow fail to imagine how you once coped with just email –manipulating mechanical buttons to build up words letter after letter, dispatched over copper wires. How the hell did we get by? When your thoughts were still down here, and when you still could tell where your own thoughts began, and others’ ended. When you weren’t yet, in the cloud.

Stay tuned for: Blu-ray –actually, who gives a fuck about Blu-ray, your DNA sequenced for 50 Euros, and the next small thing to emerge from the crash-test-dummy-for-atoms machine in Geneva.


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