I studied history in graduate school, which got me interested in how we communicate our understanding of the past with computers, which led me to history computer games. Among the game developers I’ve followed, Will Wright is the most compelling. And so I was disappointed that I couldn’t get to the Augmented World Expo in Santa Clara this year, where Wright was slated to speak, and delighted when AWE included his brief talk on their YouTube channel. Wright doesn’t disappoint.
“More than augmented reality,” he said, “I want customized reality.” Speaking as an outsider who nevertheless has a keen interest in AR, he noted that we already have “too much information”. Instead of adding more to an already cluttered world, he wants AR to filter information, reduce the background noise, and present information that matters to me.
We are already bombarded with more far information that our brains can process. (He cited the “inattentional blindness” experiments of Daniel Simons that showed that if we’re focusing on a specific task we can miss the gorilla walking in front of us). He offered the example of a driver trying to look through a windshield blocked with AR roadsigns; then he showed another that included only the signs that mattered to the driver, his route, and his destination.
I think he’s right: we need to get ambitious not about adding to reality, but about taking away that which is superfluous. Is it time for a name change?