MindBullets 20 Years


Augmented reality makes the real world really useful

Remember when five senses were enough to understand what was going on around you? Then MIT introduced ‘Sixth Sense’ technology, and you could get information from the web to tell you more about the things you can see, products you want to buy, or people you meet.

Sixth Sense used a somewhat clumsy web-cam to recognize objects, connecting them with meta-data on the internet, and overlaying the information on an object’s surface with a projector. But that still required gestures as input, and a display surface for visual information.

Now MIT Media Labs has produced Seventh Sense, linking your mind to the internet, and providing heads-up feedback via holographic spectacles or contact lenses.

On the street, focus on a restaurant – and quickly call up the menu, check the prices and reserve a table. Without lifting a finger. Augmented reality is so much more than just the real world, through special glasses.

Stores, buildings, products, people and locations all have searchable information that can add utility – and value – to our interactions with them – if it is readily available in context.

Enter a room full of people, and Seventh Sense will automatically tag everyone it recognizes. Mentally ‘click’ on the tag hovering above someone’s head, and you will get their full Google profile and recent FaceSpace activity in a flash. And you can simultaneously update your own status, just by thinking about it!

Of course, there are some drawbacks to this kind of openness, but we’ve been doing that for decades already, revealing our thoughts and what we’re up to, to millions of subscribers to Twitter and other online networks.

Seventh Sense just makes it that much more real, and certainly useful.

ANALYSIS >> SYNTHESIS: How this scenario came to be

Sixth Sense is just the start…
Ultimately, augmented reality will allow us to combine the real world and the virtual world in ways that make the two sometimes indiscernible – after all, the internet is real, and not a figment of our imagination! Once you add a brain-computer interface (BCI), the potential for two-way mental telepathy becomes totally plausible.

Warning: Hazardous thinking at work

Despite appearances to the contrary, Futureworld cannot and does not predict the future. Our Mindbullets scenarios are fictitious and designed purely to explore possible futures, challenge and stimulate strategic thinking. Use these at your own risk. Any reference to actual people, entities or events is entirely allegorical. Copyright Futureworld International Limited. Reproduction or distribution permitted only with recognition of Copyright and the inclusion of this disclaimer.