Remember when social networking was limited to just a physical address book? That was in the good old days before the Internet came along and life was turned upside down.
With improved technology and increased access to the Internet, we suddenly found that the concept of six degrees of separation was real. Along came Facebook, MySpace and other sites. Now we could place ourselves in cyberspace, visible to anyone, without leaving our homes. We could even have virtual relationships.
But what is the next step? How will we interact in the future?
The buzzword these days is “augmented reality” – a view of the real world expanded by computers. Using the camera on your mobile phone, GPS and instant web access, augmented reality devices can provide superimposed graphics, audio and other sensory experiences to enhance our perception of the real world, projected onto any surface. Think how this concept could change our lives…
Your mobile device could soon be taking on the role of Big Brother. George Orwell should be turning in his grave. Imagine – soon you will be able to simply point your device at a passing stranger and immediately know all about that person, his friends and social contacts, downloaded from instantaneous web searches. A flick of a finger and you can decide if you want to enter this individual’s social network.
Or imagine you’re at a party – a real event, not virtual, although that’s probably not so far away – and with an augmented reality device, facial recognition software will let you know instantly about everyone in the room, their interests, likes and dislikes, their friends, where they live, what their favourite foods are and what they think of the latest movie. All retrieved and downloaded from the web and overlaid on your “real world.” Instant social networking!
Or walk down a street, point your device and bingo! Augmented reality will tell you who lives where, if they are at home and what they’re likely to be watching. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination.
Is it goodbye privacy? While most people are happy to place personal information on sites such as Facebook, it may come as a shock to meet someone who instantly knows all the details of your life. If augmented reality is limited to information supplied by the person concerned, perhaps it’s not a problem. But if information is retrieved from other sources, such as banks and tax registers – what then?
Welcome to the future – if you dare.