Augmented Reality & Human Connection - Seminar 1

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MED 518 C1: Seminar 1

MED 518 C1: Seminar 1Jordan Canning IMA

Augmented Reality is the ability to insert and overlay digital and virtual information into the real world. Track Lord Marketing & Media Relations Manager for Metaio Augmented Solutions (worldwide leader in Augmented Reality Technology).

For todays intervention I will be looking specifically at the topic of Augmented Reality and its effects on communication and human interaction. I am conducting this investigation especially to bring into question how augmented reality affects us as individuals and if it has enhanced our means of interpersonal communication/intimacy or conversely provided an excuse to avoid true human connection.

Augmented Reality : Background Augmented Reality began in 1962 when cinematographer Mortan Hailey created the Sensorama (a simulator device which uses vibration, sound and smell to create a sensory experience for users).

Heads Up display system on fighter jets became the worlds first big real world Augmented Reality Display in the 1970s where aviation semiology was displayed on a transparent glass screen helping pilots to lock a better aim replacing impractical gauges and dials present in older planes.

Today AR has expanded into a form of marketing and advertising strategy in 2013 an IKEA catalogue came with an augmented reality app which allowed customers to hover smartphones and tablets over the physical brochure and view virtual demonstrative displays of how the furniture works and the various dimensions which apply.

Art Museums Apps allow enthusiasts to scan paintings and art works to receive information on the artists, the time period of the work and descriptive analogies of the work.

Google Glass Take pictures, allows you to speak to the glasses, receive directions and send messages.

Augmented Reality Apps such as 2016s Pokmon Go and the recent AR developments used for social interaction within Snapchat. This investigation will specifically aim to gather research based on whether AR enhances or depletes the quality of human interaction/connection today.

Is augmented reality a tool which functions to enhance human interaction and intimacy or does it conversely provide an excuse to avoid true human intimacy and connection?

Human Connection?I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship. - Brene Brown- There is no doubt that augmented reality has dynamically radicalised the way in which we as humans can interact with one another. Once a telegram, fax or letter may have sufficed as a means of engagement with the eventuality of the internet or a live video call seeming like an alien concept. Todays youth would be hard pressed to comprehend why anyone would choose to communicate through technologies of previous paradigms of technological innovations, mainly due to how limiting and grounded in the physical world they appear when compared with todays technology.But as we grow the heights and depths of the cyber and augmented reality sphere are we forgetting the inimitable experience of true human, face to face connectivity?

Arguments Supporting AR as a Positive means of Human Interaction- Augmented Reality within apps such as Snapchat ultimately allow the user to create a digital representation of ones own thoughts and desires. Gone are the days where society was limited to self representation through portrait and polaroid and a new wave of Multi-reality/hyper reality communication has been birthed.- It is claimed that AR allows us to evade the previous physical and digital limitations of communication by allowing humans to augment photography and video in a personalised, bespoke fashion.

- Snapchat allows users to personalise, customize and add their own touch of iconoclastic genius to snaps with the applications variety of AR features.

The images shown (right) would not be the same without the availability of Augmented Reality and thus one could argue that the ability to augment a conversation or statement with text, drawings, geofilters and other augmented features can help to convey meaning effectively and with ease.

Humans can connect instantaneously with the help of Augmented Reality.

Arguments Against AR technology as a form of True Human ConnectionJean Baudrillard suggests in Simulacra & Simulation (1981) that held within the divinity of origin is something ineffable, an experience, not necessarily tangible which cannot be recreated or simulated elsewhere. Baudrillards statement helps us to consider if Augmented Reality is merely a lacklustre attempt to simulate the very divinity of the human spirit and possibly the connectivity of life itself.

The question returns to religion and the simulacrum of divinity: "I forbade that there be any simulacra in the temples because the divinity that animates nature can never be represented." Indeed it can be. But what becomes of the divinity when it reveals itself in icons, when it is multiplied in simulacra? Does it remain the supreme power that is simply incarnated in images as a visible theology? Or does it volatilize itself in the simulacra that, alone, deploy their power and pomp of fascination - the visible machinery of icons substituted for the pure and intelligible Idea of God? (Bauldrillard, pg 7, 1981)

In the same way science and technology were recently mobilized to save the mummy of Ramses II, after it was left to rot for several dozen years in the depths of a museum. The West is seized with panic at the thought of not being able to save what the symbolic order had been able to conserve for forty centuries. Ramses does not signify anything for us, only the mummy is of an inestimable worth because it is what guarantees that accumulation has meaning. Our entire linear and accumulative culture collapses if we cannot stockpile the past in plain view. (Baudrillard, pg7)- Another interesting argument is that AR technology takes us out of the present moment and into a symbolic zone of reality, Baudrillard alludes in Simulacra & Simulation (1981) to the fact that human beings are more concerned with the symbolism of matter rather than the matter itself.

What this suggests is that humanity is perpetually scared of missing out, we are never fully in the present, only trying to immortalize past artefacts and establish conservation efforts for the future.

We spend so much time considering what was and what will be that we often miss this moment right in front of us.

The major concern with this is that we may look back at our lives and realise that in a feat to maintain the linage of yesteryear and plan our utopian ideals we have missed the only moment which ever truly exists, the present.

By keeping us connected to the digital world at all times, we are losing what it means to be human even as we are tracked and catalogued like inanimate objects in a soulless machine. (participant at

This research poses the questions; are we letting our lives pass us by when invested in simulated reality? Is Augmented Reality leading us to become disconnected with each other and ourselves?

OntologyFor my ontology for this investigation I am taking a relativist approach as I believe that there is no universal objectivity at large, only laws we each hold up as individuals and also as a collective consciousness to fit with our perspective of reality. I do however believe humanity expands forward through the focus on the wanted and the letting go of the unwanted. In regards to this investigation I am ultimately setting out to unmask through practice based research if AR communication is ultimately something wanted or unwanted when it comes to human connection.

Relativists start with questions. They use case studies and surveys to gather both words (views) and numbers, which they use to triangulate and compare. From these, they generate theories. (

For my epistemology I believe that in order to collate the most meaningful data for this research assignment then authenticity is the way forward. If there is no objective truth then the closest assessment we can make is by collating authentic opinions from individuals, my ontological stance agrees with the statement, Facts depend on the viewpoint of the observer. ( social constructivism is the school of thought from which my epistemology is based.

Social constructionistsbelieve that reality does not exist by itself. Instead, it is constructed and given meaning by people. Their focus is therefore on feelings, beliefs and thoughts, and how people communicate these. Social constructionism fits better with a relativist ontology. (

Social constructionist approaches tend to draw on qualitative sources of data whilst positivist approaches on quantitative data.

Quantitative dataconcerns quantities and therefore numbers.Qualitative datais about the nature of the thing investigated, and tends to be words rather than numbers.

I will be conducting this investigation using mostly Qualitative data as part of my methodology.


Practice Based Research Method: Snapchat Activity - Throughout this activity I aim to make participants think carefully about the functions of Augmented Reality within snapchat and its wider social implications with regards to communication and human connection.

- I aim to extend the current research surrounding the topic of AR within society by creating a conversation and interdependent discourse within the classroom. With your help I will be able to collate your opinions which I will extract from a questionnaire to be filled out following this activity.

Seminar 1 - Snapchat Activity With the person sitting next/across from you please add them on Snapchat.Turning away from that person in the classroom and using any of the following Augmented Reality features within the app please conduct the following conversation outlined below. Each person must ask and respond to each question within the given time frame. (3minutes)Snapchats AR Features ClockSpeed ReadingTemperature DisplayAdvertisement Logos & Typography Animated FiltersPromotional FiltersDrawing PadText OverlayWhere are you from?Tell me something interesting about yourself?Tell me about your favourite colour?Why is it your favourite colour?Who do you want to win the election and why?

Where are you from?Tell me something interesting about yourself?Tell me about your favourite colour?Why is it your favourite colour?Who do you want to win the election and why?