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Weekly Wrap. 8/10/09: My New Augmented Reality

Pranav Mistry, MIT Media Lab

Pranav Mistry, MIT Media Lab

If my focus last week was on the limits of the body, the focus this week appears to have been the limits of the total human package — mind and body. I started the week by launching a Monday column called “My Life as an Amphibian.” It’s a multi-part chronicle of my lifelong struggle with ADD. On Tuesday I wrote a short piece posing the question, “can groups make smart decisions;” I was inspired by a recent PsyBlog post citing a 1985 study which found that groups really struggle in this area. On Wednesday, I did a bit of relinking — I linked to a blog post that linked to a terrific article in the Boston Globe that explored the reasons why people who preach high moral standards are so vulnerable to temptation (and scandal). Then on Thursday, the day I am setting aside for writing technology stories, I wrote about the emerging market for “augmented reality,” a market which I believe will have profound impact on the human body. Throughout the week, I posted daily links from the world of AI and robotics, gathering new evidence of the numerous ways we are deploying robots to do the work that humans do (this week — robots in the military, robots that harvest, robots that care for the autistic, robots designed to cheer you up as you go through your day trying to keep up with your social networks). But a couple of articles explored the darker side of robotics — the high cost of surgical robots, the impact of robots on the global workforce. And the news was not all about robots. A very good article this week in the Cleveland Plain Dealer looked at the increasing number of people who are taking performance and intelligence-enhancing drugs — the kind of drugs prescribe to me when I was first diagnosed with ADD — to gain an edge in their professional lives.

But the big discovery for me this week was the abundance of activity in the world of augmented reality (AR). My daily digest and Thursday beat were both designed to help me explore AI (artificial intelligence), IA (intelligence augmentation) and the place where social tech meets the two. Despite my issues with the AR label, I believe that the AR market, as we know it, is indeed the place where social tech meets AI and IA. For that reason, I am going to dedicate a good part of this blog exploring the frontiers of AR. My timing is good, I think. On Monday, one of the most innovative companies in the AR market — Netherlands-based SPRXmobile, the maker of Layar – will make news announcing a “global expansion” of their service. Have no idea what the announcement will bring, but I am betting it will be big.

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