Beyond Google Glass: Good writings on Augmented Reality
September 4, 2013 5:33 AM   Subscribe

I want to read about Augmented Reality. Tech developments IRL; techno-utopian / transhuman dreams, and hard-fought aspirations; and any sci-fictional dystopian nightmares you know of.

Articles and academic papers especially welcome, but what sci-fi stories have dealt imaginatively with Augmented Reality? Where's it going? And who is worried?

Google Glass seems to offer us the best Augmented Reality possibilities at the moment, but it all feels a bit geeky and mundane. Who is really thinking outside the box?

Note: I'm not as interested in Virtual Reality here - an old paradigm which was written about extensively in the 90s. Thanks
posted by 0bvious to Technology (9 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
The plot of Rainbows End by Vernor Vinge deals a lot with Augmented Reality.
posted by Captain_Science at 5:45 AM on September 4, 2013

I came to recommend Halting State and Rule 34 as well.
posted by Sternmeyer at 7:01 AM on September 4, 2013

Accelerando by (meFi's own) Charles Stross (cstross) has a lot of this, especially in the early chapters.

The Diamond Age and Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson include augmented reality.

The most recent Ted Chiang short story, The truth of fact, the truth of feeling had an interesting take on lifelogging.

Bruce Sterling also recently did a decent keynote on Augmented Reality at the Augmented World Expo.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:32 AM on September 4, 2013

The first one that came to mind is the 5th (and last) story in the collaborative work METAtropolis, edited by John Scalzi. The story is To Hie from Far Cilenia by Karl Schroeder, and involves the hunt for missing nuclear material. The detective enters a world that exploits AR extensively for virtual-world-building. It's worth reading the other stories to get a sense for the near-future world, but this is the only one that has a remarkable AR element.

William Gibson's Virtual Light, the first book of his "Bridge" trilogy revolved around the theft of a revolutionary pair of glasses that did what we now call AR.

David Brin's Existence has a bit of this; it's set in the near future when AR and ubiquitous sousveillance and bandwidth are available, under a century away. In China (and elsewhere, but it's not as relevant), AR is the popular entertainment known as the Mesh, and at one point some characters view an AR "channel" designed by Auties (Autistic people are recognized as having alternate cognition, and their advantages are harnessed by available tech and greatly desired) which allows them to elude their pursuers because of the Auties' superior pattern detection/prediction.
posted by Sunburnt at 7:46 AM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Another IRL project: If you haven't already, follow Technical Illusions and their CastAR project. This is a slightly different AR project than Google Glass with more of a gaming angle to it.

Jeri Ellsworth and Rick Johnson were developing this technology at Valve before they were let go and allowed to take the project with them.
posted by JoeZydeco at 8:45 AM on September 4, 2013

I haven't read them since the 90's, so I make no claims as to their quality, but I do remember the character's in Eric Nylund's Signal to Noise and A Signal Shattered making extensive use of wet-wired augmented reality, to the point of augmenting face-to-face conversations by broadcasting "metaphors" to each other, like the smell of peppermint or a projection of a flock of birds taking off.
posted by Zozo at 10:59 AM on September 4, 2013

I came in here to suggest Rainbows End. Not the best story, but its depiction of a world transformed by augmented reality is pretty vivid.

Bruce Sterling had a couple of short stories in his late-90s collection A Good Old-Fashioned Future -- "Big Eddy" and "Bicycle Repairman", I think -- where wearing "spex" (basically Google Glass) is commonplace.
posted by neckro23 at 7:03 PM on September 4, 2013

Response by poster: I couldn't finish Rainbows End. Sci-tech exposition does not a novel make.

Thanks for all your narrative suggestions. Has anyone got any suggestions article or academic flavoured?
posted by 0bvious at 4:22 AM on September 5, 2013

One more novel: I'm currently reading Permanence by Karl Schroeder, which does not start with AR (where I was when I posted above) but as the novel makes its transition to the second act in a new world, everyone in living under the so-called "Rights Economy" worlds have a compulsory implant that connects them to the shared AR overlay called inscape which is used for economic micromanagement and microtransaction, sensory security, and even privacy from others in public places. The last bit reminds me as I type this that the Martians of "The Quantum Thief" by Hannu Rajaniemi do the same with their 'gavelot'. That book has a sequel with third book in the offing, so, call it 4 novels.
posted by Sunburnt at 3:23 PM on September 8, 2013

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