What is Augmented Conversation?
After 10 years, the founders of Sekai (World) Camera have created a new product, which will be announced at SXSW 2018 Interactive. It’s called Transparent, and the new technology “helps people understand each other by visualizing conversations in real time.”
Mutual understanding has been an important issue throughout all of human history. To understand what the other is saying; this requires understanding of not just the words themselves, but the other person’s cultural background, and the worldview they’re trying to convey.
A quarter century has already passed since the invention of the internet.
In that time, inventions like search engines, smartphones, AR, VR, and the IoT have made the internet more and more convenient to use. However, there are still major issues in the technology supporting people’s mutual understanding.
Is communication not something we will need to keep improving forever?
Mail evolved into Messenger. Search is changing from a typed input into a speech interface. The static hypertext from the dawn of the internet age was transformed by social networks into something dynamic that reflects the user’s personality. Digital Agents like Siri and Alexa provide a more interactive internet experience.
But think of the precious moments spent with the conversation partner in front of you, where your cultural understanding is enriched, and completely new ideas are born. There isn’t nearly enough technology available to support this.
Do you ever have moments like these in conversations?
When you’re talking to someone and think, what are they saying? (If they’re talking about a different field, you might run into this a lot…)
What place are they referring to? (If it’s an area you’re unfamiliar with, you might not quite get exactly where they’re talking about)
What event are they referencing? (Even with current events, if it’s not a topic you’re interested in, you might not even be able to understand the context)
What person is this rumor about? (There’s nothing harder to remember than people’s names…)
What novel, by what author, is this comment about? (Even if it’s a famous work of literature, the person you’re talking to might not have read it)
What movie are they reviewing? What’s the title of this album they’re praising? (There’s too many titles in movies and music)
At times like these, question marks are flashing inside our heads.
But you might not want to interrupt the flow of conversation, or it might be embarrassing to ask, or for any other reason, you might not be able to ask “What do you mean?”, or “What are you talking about?”, so (only half understanding the conversation) you end up just following along.
Transparent will reduce those question marks in your head.
To give an example, this is a conversation we were having at a language exchange in San Fransisco.
“Why is there a koban=gold coin on Meowth’s head?”
The reason the Pokémon Meowth has a koban (gold coin) on his head is based on the Japanese proverb “Neko ni Koban” (gold coins to a cat).
Another Pokémon (Spoink) is based on a different proverb with the same meaning, “pearls before swine.” Even when talking about Pokémon, being able to visualize the conversation in real time would make it much easier to share the cultural background.
SXSW 2018 Interactive will be held from the 9th to the 13rd of March in Austin, Texas. The demo exhibition of Transparent will be held at the following exhibition booths during the Trade Show (from 11 to 14 March).
Come and enjoy the visualization experience. See here for the exhibition location! ( TRADE SHOW #1341 Konel Inc. & DOKI DOKI, Inc. )