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Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality
Benefits and Flaws of a New Dimension

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Alexandra Kastana
Communication Department
New Media Essay, Fall Semester 2012

The aim of this essay is to discuss the benefits and the disadvantages of an upcoming view of reality as Internet of Things propounds (Beyond Locative Media: Gining Shape to the Internet of Things, Tuters M. Varnelis K, 2006). A new application called Augmented Reality appears to be the forthcoming technological breakthrough. The New Generation mobile phones i.e. i-phones and Android are already in disposal, designed to run locative-media applications and services (Digital Urban Ambience: A Field Study of Mediated Context-Awareness by Jesper Kjeldskov, Mikael B. Skov, Glen Wurtz Nielsen, Soren Thorup, Michael Vestergaard, Aalborg University, 2011, p1). Augmented Reality has already started to set new boundaries in our every-day activities and introduces new limits of speed in knowledge acquisition. Thus, plenty of companies choose Augmented Reality to be part of their communication strategy and it starts to become an integral part of our lives (http://www.behindthespin.com/features/advantages-disadvantages-of-augmented-reality). Therefore, it is important to investigate both, the impact that this technological innovation may have in society and if it contributes to benefit its users.

The field of science and technology has always brought about several issues that divided the scientific community into groups, putting under consideration ideological or even moral issues. However, when technology is involved into the field of Sociology and Sociology of Information then dilemmas occur which regard not only the scientific world but society as well.

Since ?????™the first recognizable social network site??™??™ was commenced in 1997, the quality of human relations and the means young people use in order to socialize were put under a prism (http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol13/issue1/boyd.ellison.html). Making a historical recursion one can see that various reviews have been practiced on the particular topic. As it is mentioned at SETLabs Briefings Digital Convergence article ?????™There is a growing demand for personalized devices and services that combine voice, video and data to any device, at any time??™??™ (SETLabs Briefings, vol8 No5, 201O, BUSINESS INNOVATIONS through TECHNOLOGY, Digital Convergence-Crafting the Future). Therefore, it becomes clear that anthropocentric applications and devices are getting the attention of technology as they appear to capture the most out of interest of public.
Augmented Reality, the new application that allows interaction between the digital and the real world, appears to be the next trend. Thus, in this essay it is going to be considered from a critical point of view in order to discuss the utility of it and set under the microscope the flaws of the new social application that is about to dominate the global web world.

1. Augmented Reality
The technological application of Augmented Reality goes one step further than the Virtual Reality managed. In addition to 3D applications where the user is ?????™Immersed inside a synthetic environment??™??™ and ?????™ cannot see the real world around him.??™??™, Augmented Reality combines digital images and information applied in real world. ?????™ Therefore, AR supplements reality, rather than completely replacing it.??™??™. (http://www.cs.unc.edu/~azuma/ARpresence.pdf, p2)
To explain further, Augmented Reality produces a ?????™composed environment??™??™ which combines information and images of the real and the digital world (http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/A/Augmented_Reality.html ).

?????™An augmented reality system generates a composite view for the user that is the combination of the real scene viewed by the user and a virtual scene generated by the? computer that augments the scene with additional information. The virtual scene generated by the computer is designed to enhance the users sensory perception of the virtual world they are seeing or interacting with.? ?????™ (http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/A/Augmented_Reality.html)
In that way the user is able to see and read the digital information of a location or even a person attached on the physical figure. Thereby, a mix of the natural and the digital environment is succeeded and the diffusion of information becomes faster and more efficient.

2. The positive aspects of a New Reality

2.1. An accessible, portable, anthropocentric application
As it is mentioned above, the application of Augmented Reality appears to be the next promising social network that will replace many of the present ones. According to the five principles of marketing (Dr. Ralph F. Wilson, E-Commerce Consultant, The Six Simple Principles of Viral Marketing, http://library.softgenx.com/Children/marketing/ViralMarketing.pdf),
Augmented Reality follows three of the most fundamental:
* Accessibility: The application is designed to be accessible at any place that internet exists. Thus, the application is accessible easy and without any cost.
* Portability: The application can be installed in a simple mobile phone like i-phones or Androids. There will be no need of buying or caring a particular device in order to run the application. That makes the application easy to use, any time and at any space.
* Universality: A common human need fulfils the greatest possibilities to become a successful marketing strategy. ?????™ Greed drives people. So does the hunger to be popular, loved, and understood. The resulting urge to communicate produces millions of websites and billions of e-mail messages. Design a marketing strategy that builds on common motivations and behaviors for its transmission, and you have a winner.??™??™ (Dr. Ralph F. Wilson, E-Commerce Consultant, The Six Simple Principles of Viral Marketing, http://library.softgenx.com/Children/marketing/ViralMarketing.pdf ).

Those three principles are the basic elements a new product needs to follow in order to be considered competitive in market. A valuable product that is offered gratis, it is the key to a successful marketing plan. The profit will follow as soon as the buyer starts to trust the product/service and it will become more and more popular to the market as the buyer becomes more familiar with it (Dr. Ralph F. Wilson, E-Commerce Consultant, The Six Simple Principles of Viral Marketing, http://library.softgenx.com/Children/marketing/ViralMarketing.pdf)

2.2. Augmented Reality and Education
The application of Augmented Reality apart from a useful means of sharing information can be also proved an invaluable tool of crating knowledge. According to the ?????™EDEN-Open Classroom Conference 2011??™??™ about Augmented Reality in Education, with the use of Augmented Reality the learner becomes more active and the procedure of knowledge transmission becomes more efficient (Augmented Reality in Education, Proceedings of the ?????™Science Center To Go??™??™ Workshops, p7: Papert, S. (1991). ???Situating Constructionism.??? In Constructionism, edited by I. Harel and S. Papert. Norwood, NJ: Ablex Publishing.). Thus ?????™the persistence and the quality of learning are highly enhanced when the potential learner is actively participating in the learning process??™??™ (Augmented Reality in Education, Proceedings of the ?????™Science Center To Go??™??™ Workshops, p7).
Introducing that new tool in the field of education, a plethora of images, information and knowledge can take flesh and bones. Ancient monuments, architectural edifices and historical facts may come alive within a small room as a classroom (Augmented Reality in Education, Proceedings of the ?????™Science Center To Go??™??™ Workshops, p17-18). In that way the lectures turn from teacher-oriented into student-oriented. The learner gets more involved and interactive in the procedure of learning and the transmission of knowledge becomes more efficient. (Augmented Reality in Education, Proceedings of the ?????™Science Center To Go??™??™ Workshops, p17-18)

Thus ?????™AR learning environments have the potential to offer both educational and entertainment value??™??™ (Augmented Reality in Education, Proceedings of the ?????™Science Center To Go??™??™ Workshops, p17-18).

The application of Augmented Reality brings the traditional teaching/learning procedure into another level where the teacher becomes the coadjutor and the learner/student takes the lead of the learning procedure. The material can be chosen individually by the students who are navigated through the application and each collect the information he finds the most interesting. In that way an interaction and a discussion of the information can take place where the learners build knowledge collectively (Augmented Reality in Education, Proceedings of the ?????™Science Center To Go??™??™ Workshops, p17-18)

3. The impacts of a New Reality
3.1. Privacy: The great issue of a New Reality
The application of Augmented Reality is offered for many uses in varied fields. Touristic guides, Global Positioning Systems of advanced technology and easy access of accurate information are only few of the possible functions of Augmented Reality. Nevertheless, that technological breakthrough is not flawless. Facial and location recognition technologies bring already about controversies and discussion about privacy issues and unreliable information concerning our personal lives (http://www.futureconscience.com/augmented-reality-good-bad-ugly-part-two-the-bad/ ).
The application to Augmented Reality will bring the access to personal information to a new dimension. A digital profile will define us in any part of our daily life. People will be able to access information about strangers in any public or private space ?????™ Normal channels of human interaction will be circumvented, we will already know quite a bit about an individual before we get close enough to shake their hands.??™??™ (http://www.futureconscience.com/augmented-reality-good-bad-ugly-part-two-the-bad/ ). The ?????™Big Brother??™??™ phenomenon enters the personal space of any who uses the application, in any private and public space taking the control of the simplest every-day decision one may take of ?????™who to let enter my private space??™??™.
The privacy policies will partially protect the users. If we look back to the already existing social networks we can easily conclude that it is almost utopian to believe in a strict and qualitative privacy control. Personal information is spread easily and it can turn from an annoying to an even harmful situation for our private lives ?????™such a situation will often be beneficial to those making profit from any such applications (more users, more content, more money).?  If we don??™t secure our information correctly, there is great deal of concerns from the annoying to the dangerous??™??™ (http://www.futureconscience.com/augmented-reality-good-bad-ugly-part-two-the-bad/ ).
Social networks, apart from anything else, provide anonymity and the security of expressing opinions and beliefs without the danger of exposing our identity. Such a kind of privacy can lead to great issues of harassment and cyber bullying as a great portion of the digital world users find a great interest in violation and indignity of personal data. According to global survey-based market research company Ipsos, six out of ten parents that were asked to think about which means/way children they know have experienced cyber bullying, replied through Social Networking (60%) and four out of ten (42%) through cellular telephones or mobile devices. [pic.5] (http://www.ipsos-na.com/news-polls/pressrelease.aspxid=5462#.Tw6exyC2__s.twitter / http://www.youtube.com/watchv=MFVLdU3HHrM&list=UUrYKaLugZYiP3atzlrkHq5A&index=2&feature=plcp )
Cyber crime already constitutes a great part of the 21st century??™s depravity. The new order of things in communication has already started to show its impact to society. Taking a look to the children??™s cyber bullying statistics may help to create an image of the real crime rates not only in the real world dimension but also to the cyber sphere which the application of Augmented Reality will be broadened.

3.2. Social Detachment and Depersonalization
Social networks, cyber chat-rooms and online recreation sites have invaded the daily life of the global population even of those countries considered as ?????™developing areas??™??™ where essential needs like food and clothing are not yet fulfilled. As decades pass by the field of technology evolves and offers great solutions to the fields of science, medicine and education. However, as more medicines are invented and life expectancy is raising higher, people get more and more isolated. Youngsters are detached in front of a computer screen either playing computer games or creating fake social profiles in order to communicate with strangers sat behind their own PC screen, hidden from real world. Isolation and social detachment is the new threat scourging societies of the 21st century. [pic.6]
There are great discussions raised concerning the evolution of human race as from a social human being turns into solitary and socially detached. The application of Augmented Reality brings those social challenges a step further. ?????™Meeting??™??™ a person will mean check his social network profile. ?????™Visiting??™??™ a place, a museum or even city will mean going a tour through our mobiles. The motivation to explore a new place without knowing much about it and the excitement of meeting new people without first checking their relationship status on their digital profile, is now reduced. The 4th dimension serves all the necessary information in front of us quid pro quo the chance of experience.

The mixture of reality with the digital world was conceived as a scientific fiction film till the late years. The great technological progress of the last decades though has proved that future is already here. Robotic sciences, medical breakthroughs that extend life expectancy ten to fifteen years or even the discovery of God??™s particle are only few of the considerable advances of technology. The question that arises though is if humanity is ready to jump so far to the future. Great finds bring not only benefits and flourishing but many drawbacks and abomination. The imaginary scenarios we watch in the movies have started to come alive day by day. A new era has already begun and a season of remarkable changes in the social structure has given the first signs of conversion. It is vital for humanity to realize this transition to another sphere of reality and take advantage of the vast wealth technology offers in order to bring change in this world for a better future.

1. http://cuma.periplurban.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/tutersvarnelis.pdf (Beyond Locative Media: Gining Shape to the Internet of Things, Tuters M. Varnelis K, 2006)
2. Digital Urban Ambience: A Field Study of Mediated Context-Awareness by Jesper Kjeldskov, Mikael B. Skov, Glen Wurtz Nielsen, Soren Thorup, Michael Vestergaard, Aalborg University, 2011
3. http://www.behindthespin.com/features/advantages-disadvantages-of-augmented-reality
4. http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol13/issue1/boyd.ellison.html (A History of Social Network Sites: The Early Years)
5. http://www.infosys.com/infosys-labs/publications/Documents/digital-convergence.pdf (SETLabs Briefings, vol8 No5, 201O, BUSINESS INNOVATIONS through TECHNOLOGY, Digital Convergence-Crafting the Future)
6. http://www.cs.unc.edu/~azuma/ARpresence.pdf (A Survey of Augmented Reality, Ronald T. Azuma, Hughes Research Laboratories, In Presence: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments 6, 4 4 (August 1997), 355-385)
7. http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/A/Augmented_Reality.html
8. http://library.softgenx.com/Children/marketing/ViralMarketing.pdf (Dr. Ralph F. Wilson, E-Commerce Consultant, The Six Simple Principles of Viral Marketing)
9. http://www.sctg.eu/materials/sctgo_proceedings_low.pdf (Augmented Reality in Education-Proceedings of the ?????™Science to Go??™??™ Workshops, EDEN 2011 Open Classroom Conference, Ellinogermaniki Agogi, Athens, Greece)
10. http://www.futureconscience.com/augmented-reality-good-bad-ugly-part-two-the-bad/
11. http://www.ipsos-na.com/news-polls/pressrelease.aspxid=5462#.Tw6exyC2__s.twitter / http://www.youtube.com/watchv=MFVLdU3HHrM&list=UUrYKaLugZYiP3atzlrkHq5A&index=2&feature=plcp
Links for Images
* Picture 1, 2, 3, 4: http://www.google.gr/searchq=augmented+reality+images&hl=el&prmd=imvnsa&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=dpqlUOyJEof04QTY4YDIDQ&sqi=2&ved=0CCEQsAQ&biw=1280&bih=675
* Picture 5: http://www.ipsos-na.com/news-polls/pressrelease.aspxid=5462#.Tw6exyC2__s.twitter / http://www.youtube.com/watchv=MFVLdU3HHrM&list=UUrYKaLugZYiP3atzlrkHq5A&index=2&feature=plcp
* Picture 6: http://www.google.gr/searchq=evolution+funny+pictures&hl=el&prmd=imvns&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=A5ylUJKWH-Xb4QT1vYC4Dg&sqi=2&ved=0CBwQsAQ&biw=1280&bih=632


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