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As we go about our daily lives, we experience
the world around us, our own personal reality. The reality
each of us experiences is slightly different from what others experience. First, it is colored through our senses - someone who is colorblind
, for example, won't be able to experience the same visual sensory range as someone who is not. Someone with a non-functional sense, such as someone totally blind
or completely deaf
, has an even more restricted experience. We also experience it through our mental filters
, paying more attention to certain types of events and sensations, and less to others.
Regardless of all that, we still experience quite a raw version of reality, and have little control over it. We only can sense reality in certain ways - thus the creation of many tools to supplement our own abilities in areas we are lacking. We create means to measure temperature remotely, amplify and process sound, and make video recordings.
As technology continues to get more powerful while also getting smaller and more flexible, it offers the opportunity to take these tools and make them part of our lives in more integrated ways. This is one of the possibilities that wearable computing may make possible - enhanced reality.
Enhanced reality is a means of using these tools to process reality around you in real-time, providing instantly-accessible information when needed, or modifying sensory data to fit the wishes of the user. The idea is to give you that control over your senses that you currently don't have. Essentially, customizing reality to your needs the way you may customize your desktop.
Use facial-recognition software to process the images you see, allowing you to highlight people you know - and perhaps even pop their names and other important information up for you. Have signs in a foreign language translated instantly - perhaps even have the translation replace the original, so you never know it wasn't in your language to start with.
Have sounds that bother you blocked from your senses - you'll never have to hear fingernails on a chalkboard again. Have indicators let you know where that person calling your name is. Pop up flashing icons when emergency sirens are going off.
With more advanced technology that allows implanted computers, say, between your nervous system and brain, you could really do unusual things. Block signals such as cold, and find yourself able to happily frolick in freshly-filled and cold swimming pool. Magnify sensations of touch for special occasions with that significant other. Nullify pain, allowing surgery without anaesthesia.
Simple versions can be done today, and experiements with glasses able to display information via a low-powered laser directly into the eye have already been successful. As the equipment becomes better, and more and more people get chance to use it, we will really start to head down this path.