The Life after Pokemons
It's not going to be the same and I'll tell you how it's going to be
Ok everybody talk about pokemons and we still don't. Let's talk about them. Not exactly about them, but about the fact that they are not particularly important by themselves. Say they will be forgotten a month later. But the thing is the world won't be the same. And I'm not kidding.
Here is why. Before our eyes now developing something important though we don't completely realize it. We are trying to understand why everybody are so excited about those little creatures? Like augmented reality was there already for some time and nobody still got into hysterics or something.
Here what is important is the WORLDWIDE boom. I doesn't matter if it's pokemons or something else.
So what's going on. I'll tell you. It's how new technology gets into everyday reality. When you carry new technology around the exhibitions, show it to your geeks - it looks cool but a bit outlandish. The experts are excited, saying it's future in this stuff, but future still isn't here. Because there are two obstacles. Technical readiness and psychological readiness.
With technical readiness it's simple - you need everybody carry around the device capable of creating augmented reality. Otherwise it won't happen. Some special glasses (not to mentions some projections directly to retina) are still too geeky. But the smartphone is something that everybody has - and it means everybody is ready to meet augmented reality. Technically. Not psychologically. And here is the second more important in terms of development of technology moment.
For technology to penetrate everyday life it has to become understandable, to become the part of our informational and cultural space. When the copy machine became "Xerox" it went on smoothly. But when technology is not related to the particular product it stumbles. On the one hand it's cool, on the other nobody can figure out what to do with that.
And the future of technology depends on how quickly appears the example of its practical usage.
Augmented reality exists already for quite a long time. For several years in different conferences they say how cool it's for businesses. But businesses don't get it. First they don't attend those conferences, second they reason logically - if it was really so cool then all the corporations already would launch it. And if they didn't they probably wait for something so we won't hurry as well. And the most important it's not clear how to do that. And for whom. For example we do that and nobody'll use it. F*ck it. Let's wait.
The same with users. They have no habit of searching the points of AR around, what could you do about it, their hands ain't used to it.
And now here we have pokemons.
Once again I emphasize - hell with the pokemons. Don't look at them. The game itself doesn't matter. It's not about the pokemons but about how everybody saw the potential and prospects of augmented reality. And learned how to use it.
Let's talk about what happens next.
Very soon all businesses will try to take advantage of this "pokemon" theme, aligning themselves with the existing game (and they already do) But the initial excitement will subside very quickly and month or two later somebody who invites you to "catch pokemons at our party" would be considered exemplary slowpokes.
But in parallel started another process. Mass development of similar applications with the same mechanics. Because now it's clear how it should be.
Forgotten word "gamification" will pop up - like remember three years ago there was a lot of noise about it and then it disappeared. It will become clear that apps with augmented reality - are what is neccessary for cheap and easy "gamification" in offline. Install the app, fine in the store tags with secret codes and get a discount.
The firms organizing quests will figure out that this is exactly for them - the cues might be placed anywhere, without difficulty of burying of treasure chest under the pavement of Red Square.
Manufacturers of various products and toys will see the goldmine. Install the app and watch cartoons on each label of our drinks. It also could transform your friend into monster!
Travel agencies will start to compete producing apps for cultural entertainment. Walk to the street and read the tags "Cafe with authentic cousine", "Best burritos", "Here stayed for night and was bitten by lices poet Klushkin"
Startupers traditionally will rush to create aggregators of all types - aim your smartphone at the trade center and get the list of the stores inside and so on. And of course Groupon with AR and geolocation.
More advanced startupers will begin to consider more universal service that would integrate everything. Like new multi-layer environment with switches "Show AR related to "culture/crime/history/games". It will be connected to neural networks, analysis of user routes and preferences. Unfortunately they'll eventually perish under the kilometers of "almost ready" code.
This list is infinite. Because eyes are open and everybody will try to take a shot. And by the way after several years of attempts it'll become clear that smartphones are not particularly convenient for it. Then we'll see triumphant return of Google Glass and such. Not like exotics but like usual everyday devices.
But it's still only one side of it.
The second side is related to realization of the potential for manipulation. Some folks already got paranoid about pokemons revealing the locations of nuclear ships and strategic objects. But there are still unthinkable before opportunities for leading the masses to the particular place in the particular time. More to that, smart americans gopnics already managed to successfully relieve some smartphone owners from their smartphones luring them into places convenient for the task.
And what if to organize the hunt after something "precious" in some special place? You can gather the crowd, block the traffic, provoke the scuffle or worse. Also you can "ddos" some highly guarded event.
Obviously there soon'll be "safety rules for AR", which would be taught to children and grown-ups with similar intelligence. Also there'll be groups of citizens demanding to ban all this immediatelly.
The third side is regulation.
"Real reality" is regulated everywhere in the world. Virtual - not so much, but there are already precedents at place. Augmented reality is still in the gray zone. And meanwhile during only a week of their existense cheeky pokemons managed to stumble across cemeteries, museums and churches. And it's obviously not good. But to whom attach responsibility? And for what? Because "in reality" it kinda wasn't anything.
And what if somebody begin to augment reality with some "special" fantasies? Like "Guide to the secret town" where in front of each statue you can watch its porno-version.
And what if somebody places some interesting pictures in the window of the first-floor apartment and endless crowds of people begin to push there their smartphones. Is it normal state of affairs or it should be prevented somehow. Is it violation of privacy or hooliganism? And who is responsible - developer of the app or guy with the smartphone.
Who'll be responsible if the pokemon will be placed in the middle of the road and the excited hunter will rush under the bus. Though it already happens.
Obviously with increasing number of casualties will increase the necessity to evaluate AR in legal terms. And we, russian citizens, will face our own challenges with unpredictable result.
Because here all legislative initiatives will be related to the scandalous accidents and decisions will be made by people very unfamiliar with the matter. And those decisions might be disastrous. There is no doubt about that. The question is - is it possible to prevent or correct those developments? Is it possible that expert community will independently begin discuss and prepare initiatives to solve this problem or just limit itself to whining about the quality of the new legislation.