Monday, October 2, 2023

Don’t Say It Outloud—Augmented Reality

I was chatting with “the kids these days” about their use of TikTok instead of Google. Since the flags here are half mast, the kids (not my kids) showed me using TikTok to search for “did someone die?” Morbid, I know, but the search result was excellent content showing a ninety second video explaining who had passed with a bunch more followup videos of different people talking about the event, its historical importance, etc. How would I, the neanderthal, handle the situation? By using a web search for it, reading an article on CNN, and if I wanted to know more, I might click my way over to Wikipedia.
DALLE - Kids Watching TikTok
Why are the kids using TikTok? I blame AirPods. If you grew up watching Star Trek: The Next Generation, you can probably picture scenes where LaForge or Data is having a dynamic conversation with the computer in engineering as they try to research or problem solve the way out of yet another conundrum. The moment another person enters the scene, they stop the conversation, and switch to using the LCARS touch interface instead. Why? They don’t wear AirPods. It would be untenable for everyone to have out loud conversations with the computer at the same time - this is a problem easily solved by personal in-ear communication system. Uhura had it right all along!
Someday, we’re likely going to be wearing augmented reality glasses or contacts, but today, I already see teenagers wearing augmented reality in the form of AirPods. I see them sitting around and interacting with one another in person, while also having an AirPod in one ear. The explanation given to me was audio alerts and voice assistants. When a new message comes in, it is read in their ear to them without the need to pull out the phone and look. This works very well with their parents around as well. If they want to respond, they can do it via audio without taking out there phone.
DALLE - Kids Talking While Wearing AirPods
This past summer, Cornell University created glasses that use a combination of sensors to “read your lips” allow you to subvocalize verbal commands. This would be a major improvement to audio augmented reality. The next generation is already using audio augmented reality daily, and if subvocalization were added, it would be amazing. Couple this with new LLM AI chatbots and you have Jarvis in your ear.
Sure, we know the glasses are coming, eventually, but audio AR is here today.