Friday, October 28, 2011

All the world's a screen

 This is a recent video from Microsoft doing some potential crystal ball gazing into the future of the integration of the physical world and the tools of technology/computer. Where everything is a potential screen and information is neither digital nor physical but can be shared, moved and manipulated from surface to device. In watching this video, this future world is both completely urban and very sterile. All surfaces are immaculately clean and much of the. It seems that this new digital world has no room for piles of stuff or leftover bits of projects because it's all pixels. There's some corollary to this project in Chris Harrison's work on Skinput or Pranav Mistry's Sixth Sense Project demoed in this TED video.


The description of the Sixth Sense project follows as taken from Mistry's website: "'SixthSense' is a wearable gestural interface that augments the physical world around us with digital information and lets us use natural hand gestures to interact with that information. By using a camera and a tiny projector mounted in a pendant like wearable device, 'SixthSense' sees what you see and visually augments any surfaces or objects we are interacting with. It projects information onto surfaces, walls, and physical objects around us, and lets us interact with the projected information through natural hand gestures, arm movements, or our interaction with the object itself. 'SixthSense' attempts to free information from its confines by seamlessly integrating it with reality, and thus making the entire world your computer."   The last sentence nicely captures the point of Microsoft's video. If the entire world is our computer then this seems to imply that our informaiton is necessary to be the world's as well so that the world as computer has something to process. A recent NYR article Over the High-Tech Rainbow asks this question: "... should we just assume that all this personal information being generated and collected won’t be used against us by insurers, or employers, or lawyers, or marketers, or the government?" Not that our personal information isn't already collected and used against us but the increasing drive to remove any perceived barriers between the desire and the ability to share information should warrant increased scrutiny of how that information is actually used by and against its progenitors.

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