Posted by Lucas Nygaard
Reconnecting digital with physical
During the last 25 years, our existence has begun to split between two universes. Up until then, there was only one universe - the physical. When you wanted to flirt with someone, you winked or smiled at them. Today you can do that - or match with them on Tinder. When you wanted to know something, you went to the library or asked a friend. Today you can do that - or google it. Before, if you wanted to learn something, you went to school. Today you can do that - or go on Youtube.
Today, the physical and the digital universe coexist, with our existences perfectly split between them. We can easily switch between the universes by pulling up our computer or smartphone, and sometimes we can even get lost in the digital universe of infinite scrolling content on Facebook, or hundreds of amazing movies and series on Netflix.
Still, there’s a split between the two universes, who rarely mix. When I look you in the eye, we’re together in the physical world, when I look at my phone, I’m suddenly somewhere else. The best example of this is on public transport, especially in Nordic countries, where hundreds of people can be in the same room, but barely notice each other, because they’re in a different universe, through their smartphones, sometimes even coupled with headphones.
But the split is about to collapse, thanks to augmented reality. A technology that makes it possible to add digital content, on top of the real world. A new technology that most people have only heard about from Pokémon Go, where people chased virtual Pokémons in the real world, or Snapchat filters, that change people's faces.
The next computer interface
The idea that the physical and digital universe will mix, will have many further possibilities and consequences than that and will be the biggest game-changer in computer interfaces, of this century. First, we had computer keyboards that allowed us to write messages to our computers, which gave us feedback on a screen that acted as a window into the digital universe. Then the computer mouse made it possible to click and manipulate objects behind the window. Then the touch screen made it possible to click directly on the window. Augmented reality will be the next step, transforming the window into a portal, into the digital universe.
With augmented reality, physical objects can have a digital layer attached to them, that becomes visible upon looking at the objects through a smartphone, tablet, or special glasses. The content of the digital layer is determined by the app or website you’ve opened and can be interactive too. Imagine if your favorite newspaper or magazine had a digital layer like this, turning articles into interactive, three-dimensional holograms or making pictures come alive with a video layer, like the newspapers in Harry Potter.
Nobody wanted a touch screen, they wanted an easier way to interact with their computers, and the touch screen was the tool that made that possible. Likewise, nobody wanted Google, they wanted an easier way to navigate the internet, and Google’s search engine was the tool that made it possible.
In the same way, Hololink doesn't just want to give people access to augmented reality, we want to democratize a tool to mix the physical and the digital world. Creating an augmented reality experience to be as easy as creating a video or website. We believe there was never meant to be two universes. It just happened because it wasn’t possible to mix them together, until now.
The real problem
This means that augmented reality solves a problem so deep, that most of us might have forgotten that it is a problem. Like when Kodak thought nobody wanted digital cameras, because they had forgotten the problem of having to change films. Or when Nokia thought nobody wanted smartphones, because they had forgotten the problem of having to go to a computer to go on the internet or check emails.
Even though the term, augmented reality, was coined almost thirty years ago and the idea of having a virtual layer on top of the real world can be traced back through over a hundred years of literature, augmented reality as a medium is still in its infancy. At Hololink we believe the medium should be accessible to more people, to not just create gimmicks, but fully interactive experiences. Curious? Go sign up for early access, to get exclusive access to our platform and receive our newsletter.