Every day, we as humans are integrating more and more with the technology around us, with the digital world. It’s incredible, but what we’re finding is that we’re starting to blur this line between virtual and reality. I think it’s a pretty interesting thing because as we integrate more with this technology around us, we’re starting to find new ways to allow it to augment us.
Now we will all find ourselves somewhere along this continuum between the real world as we know it in the virtual world, and we’re going to be moving into that future very quickly. You don’t currently find yourself telling your friends about the other day when you were walking around a couple of social media sites and you grab some mates from the other side of the world inside in an online store whilst one of them put on some virtual clothes. But the world is changing very, very quickly. And so we need to keep up with that. We need to raise the conversations as to what we could potentially achieve.
The early 90s
In the late 80s, early 90s, there was this rise of virtual reality. We had these headsets. My dad got me to try these on these headsets. That would give you an incredible headache. And it’s basically like strapping a TV to your face. But you can look around and what happens then is it makes it very immersive. Now, back then, it wasn’t the right time and it was overshadowed by the rise of the Internet.
But we could still see even then that there was a future for this technology. So over the last 10 years, I’ve been working in technologies that can augment us and most of my work has been in disability. I’ve worked on a smart wheelchair for my stay in 2012, and this smart wheelchair was allowing you to a person who needed it. I’ve mostly worked in disability on communication, mobility, and connection, but this allowed you to control the wheelchair with the mind and the wheelchair could see and think for itself as a robot. So it had robotics and artificial intelligence in there as well.
Now, what was really interesting is the camera that you can see on the front, the yellow camera. That’s a stereoscopic vision system. Now, what it has are two cameras that just like our own eyes, take two different images, put them on top of each other. And with that, just like we can see in three dimensions, it can project those pixels into the third dimension, giving it a third ordinate and allowing a very low quality, three-dimensional photo.
Now, this is something I found on the front of the laptop of wheelchair. I found this the other day from 2008. I have no idea what I was doing here, but that’s me. I think I’m holding some recycling boxes, but what you could see there is you can rotate three-dimensional space because it’s a 3-D point cloud.
So all those pixels reside in three-dimensional space. Now, that was very interesting, but the technology itself has actually advanced a lot since then. Now, the rise of virtual reality came back again in 2012 with the Oculus Rift. Has anyone heard of this?
No? Ok no problem.
Now, when I first tried the Oculus Rift, I put this device on my head and like the TV being strapped to the face, it was a lot better than it used to be. Much, much better. What I found was I found myself in a virtual apartment and I was watching a virtual TV. And on this TV there was a music video. Now I got really immersed in it. And then I started to realize when it finished that I was still sitting in a virtual apartment and then I took the device off back to the real world.
But the interesting thing was I remember this as if it was a memory as if I had experienced it. And that’s when I realized it was so incredibly powerful. So with that type of power in that sort of technology, combined with the three-day point clouds from 2008, it made me realize that we are standing on the verge of a massive technological revolution. We could potentially realize certain ideas, as wacky as they are, certain ideas like being able to create a virtual copy of ourselves.
What if this happens?
And I started thinking about that, I wanted to see how it could affect us even more emotionally, starting to think about what would happen if this was a family member that we could preserve. What we have here is a picture of myself when I was a baby with my grandfather. Now he sounded like an absolutely lovely man, an amazing person, and I would very much love to meet him. Unfortunately, he passed away when I was just before I was two, and he never got to meet my lovely, wonderful triplet siblings who are three and a half years younger than me.
So if this idea of this concept existed in the past, I would absolutely want to be able to meet a virtual copy of my grandfather and be able to speak with him, to be able to interact with him, because I would get a better idea of who he was. But I wanted to talk to my mom about this because I had no idea how to gauge this idea that I had. So I spoke to my mom and I said, what would you think if I said, you know, the technology is not available now but wasn’t back then either.
If I could…..
Challenges and opportunities.
What would you say if I could have brought back your grandfather? And with tears in her eyes, she said, I don’t think I’d want that because I would be constantly reliving the loss. And I started to realize this idea is actually very different. It’s very important to recognize this. There are challenges and opportunities with every new technological development.
So as much as I would love it, my mom would have a different approach. And the reason is that our prior relationship with the person being covid will affect the response that we have. Having said that, it would be the best thing for me if I was able to make my grandfather. So if we take it to an even more personal level, what if we could copy ourselves throughout time? And be able to go back and revisit ourselves in the past and really understand the sort of dreams, the visions that we had.
Did you ever have those big ideas to do so much for the world? What would happen if your self was saying, how are you going with that? I think it’s incredibly powerful. What would you say to your previous self and what would your past self say to you now? I really would like to show you something that we’ve been working on. So this is an amazing collaboration that we’ve had from my guys at Cyanotic and the brilliant people at humans to bring together.
It’s your choice that how you interpret it.