Augmented Reality & Human Connection - Seminar 2

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MED 518 C1: Seminar 1 OutcomeJordan Canning IMA

The Research Assignment & Practical Investigation (Seminar 1a)The pervading topic of Augmented reality in todays mainstream media has led many critics, scholars and new media enthusiasts to question, analyse and investigate the social implications of such new media.

With Virtual and Augmented reality technology hitting a crescendo point in the world of digital advancement my practical research assignment aimed to bring into question an area so far over looked; the effects of Augmented Reality on human interaction and connection.

I wanted to create my own research surrounding AR technology, how we use it to communicate and most importantly whether or not it enhances communication or distracts from face to face human connection.

After researching various texts from theorists including Baudrillard, Tollee and Bolter as well as the many public debates occurring on digital forums such as www.Debate.org I decided it was important to focus my research on the individual and their own experience with augmented reality as a tool for communication.

I began to question the ways in which augmented reality effects how we interact with one another and its prominence within particular technologies and modalities such as the smartphone. Why is it a useful communication tool? Or why isnt it?

As suggested by Wired magazine Augmented reality was quietly introduced to the mainstream through Snapchat with its various lenses, filters and other augmented features. However AR later exploded with the release of the game Pokmon Go (2016).

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?

Arguments for AR as a positive form of social interaction includedArguments for AR as a Negative form of social interaction includedAugmented Reality can help imitate real life and thus heighten the limits of digital creation and how we can alter visual communication.

Simulation offers new and exciting ways for interpersonal interaction and may allow for some people to step outside of their usual comfort zone/limitations.

Augmented Reality is a natural step in the evolution of humanity, we are moving into a much more electronic age where the same rules and communicative appropriations no longer apply.

Jean Baudrillard suggests that to simulate is to rid the spiritual essence of the origin; thus when we attempt to simulate human connection we often miss the point all along, true connection.

- We cannot simulate physical touch or one on one presence with another. AR is a lacklustre substitute and an excuse to avoid intimacy.

Hyper Reality which can be defined as a condition on which reality has been replaced by simulacra

Eckhart Tolle suggests that we take the present moment for granted when we are caught up in past and future modalities. Augmented reality serves to take our attention from the present and into a non existent, non authentic realm.

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 www.Debate.org)

My research ultimately led me to the following 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 or is the reverse true?

Research Outcomes When planning my own research inquiry and how I would carry this out practically I consulted the book Management Research by Easter-by Smith, Jackson and Thorpe.

Aided by this text I was able to establish my own ontology, epistemology, methodology and the research methods I would be using. These included a relativist ontology and an epistemology based on the school of social constructivism.

My practical research would make use of the augmented reality features within Snapchat as a means of social interaction and unravel whether or not these were beneficial or unhelpful for connecting with another person.

I wanted to create an authentic and arbitrary investigation which would allow participants to give their own opinions of augmented reality and how it effected human connection.

- I aimed 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.

By creating a conversation and interdependent discourse within the classroom where participants were able to conduct a set conversation using Augmented Reality and then asked to conduct the same conversation in a face to face, verbal setting I was able to collect the following data from the seven questionnaire questions.

The research method I used was a questionnaire which aimed to gather qualitative data from the classroom. I will use this data to create some minor quantitative data in the form of percentages within an infographic for illustration purposes.

- The seven question asked prompted participants to consider the mental, emotional, spatial and authentic elements of human interaction/connection.

Questions included whether participants preferred connecting via Augmented Reality or face to face, whether they felt simulated reality could ever replace physical connection and the main differences in how both experiences felt and appeared to them personally.

After reviewing the answers given by each participant I am able to present the key findings on the follow slide.

Main Findings

Most participants felt positively about using augmented reality as a means of communicating with some suggesting that it adds a sense of fun and entertainment to their daily life. Some participants enjoyed being able to convey their questions and responses with the help of filters and the drawing pad.

However most participants listed various limitations which AR poses in terms of how we interact and connect with each other. Many suggested that they were unable to convey true emotion and body language through snapchat as oppose to when they were sitting face to face with another.

Not one person suggested that Augmented Reality could ever replace physical, human connection with a number of participants declaring that we are wasting our time with apps if we are trying to communicate effectively.

One person suggested that Too much time is being invested in the augmented and not the real world. This statement has led to me to consider what further research and investigation could be made within the topic of AR and Human connection/Interaction.

Whilst it is difficult to come to one solid conclusion for this investigation/practical research I would suggest that in response to my initial research question - 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? That the answer is both. We can use tools such as augmented reality to either enhance our ability connect if monitored appropriately in terms of the time spent using the technology and its moderation.However the same tool can also become a hindrance to human connection as it distorts how we see one another and limits our ability to be present with another human being when they are absent from our physical space.

- My suggestion for further research into this topic would be an investigation into even more realistic forms of Augmented Reality such as Google Glass and also Virtual Reality which both use simulacra to communicate meaning.

- Due to time and monetary limitations this investigation has been limited to using only the AR features within snapchat and a better, more in depth study could be conducted with access to more advanced forms of AR simulation such as holographic displays of human beings which would not compromise areas such as body language in the same way snapchat has.

Bibliography Simulacra & Simulation In-text:(Anon, 2016)Your Bibliography:Anon, (2016). [online] Available at: http://www.bconradwilliams.com/files/7313/9690/1991/Baudrillard-Jean-Simulacra-And-Simulation2.pdf [Accessed 20 Oct. 2016].

AUGMENTED REALITY: THE SOCIAL IMPLICATIONSIn-text:(Augmented Tomorrow, 2016)Your Bibliography:Augmented Tomorrow. (2016).Augmented Reality: The Social Implications. [online] Available at: http://augmentedtomorrow.com/the-social-implications-of-augmented-reality/ [Accessed 20 Oct. 2016].IS AUGMENTED REALITY (AR) TECHNOLOGY BENEFICIAL AND/OR USEFUL?In-text:(Debate.org, 2016)Your Bibliography:Debate.org. (2016).Is augmented reality (AR) technology beneficial and/or useful?. [online] Available at: http://www.debate.org/opinions/is-augmented-reality-ar-technology-beneficial-and-or-useful [Accessed 20 Oct. 2016]WRITING YOUR DISSERTATION: METHODOLOGY | SKILLSYOUNEEDIn-text:(Skillsyouneed.com, 2016)Your Bibliography:Skillsyouneed.com. (2016).Writing your Dissertation: Methodology | SkillsYouNeed. [online] Available at: http://www.skillsyouneed.com/learn/dissertation-methodology.html [Accessed 20 Oct. 2016].MANAGEMENT RESEARCHIn-text:(Google Books, 2016)Your Bibliography:Google Books. (2016).Management Research. [online] Available at: https://books.google.co.uk/books?hl=en&lr=&id=3VJdBAAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&dq=the+basic+principles+of+research+design+easterby+smith&ots=AiqmqhIaQG&sig=LzP6iZfjASe_UfCo0sZAZMmgBpk#v=onepage&q&f=false [Accessed 20 Oct. 2016].