Augmented Reality is transforming vision itself. Wearable hardware like AR-enhanced glasses will accelerate this transformation, enabling computers to model and interpret everything we encounter. After receiving early access to Snap’s AR Spectacles, I collaborated with Modem and creative studio oio to explore this new way of seeing — prototyping an interface that lets us interact with the world by simply looking at it.
The prototype lens for Snap's AR Spectacles enables users to interact with the world by simply looking at it. The lens leverages the IFTTT platform to assign triggers to real-world objects. For instance, detecting a clock will trigger to display today's calendar next to it.
Computers still exist to serve human ends, and like photography a century ago, computer vision is ultimately a way to help us see better: humans and computers viewing the world together and sharing responsibility for interpreting and interacting with it.
Augmented reality (AR) has emerged as one of computer vision’s most compelling applications, enabling a user’s own visual field to frame the computer’s perspective and determine what the machine sees. With AR, vision itself assumes a new meaning, routing sensory input to both the brain and a computer simultaneously, as data for digital processing — artificial intelligence working in parallel with real intelligence. Meanwhile, the physical environment becomes a user interface, sheathed in a new layer of digital information. Seeing is no longer just a way to gather information about the world, but also a way to act upon that world.
As vision evolves, so do the tools that support it. Today, AR is most commonly experienced through a smartphone camera, but emerging forms of wearable hardware, particularly glasses, promise to more closely align what users and computers see. AR eyewear will likely become the material symbol of collaborative human-machine vision — a statement of the body’s ever-changing relationship to technology, and a tangible sign of transhumanism’s growing cultural significance.
Research by Modem & OIO
Text by Drew Austin
© 2023 Bram Fritz