Design Story
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Design Story

Augmented Life

What will it mean to live in an AR world?

I’ve sketched out a few provocations here of what might happen when we combine AR with ML to create ARML apps. Think of these drawings as equal parts sci-fi storyboards and cultural inquiries. I’ll keep adding more to this article over time, so check back in.


Image visiting ruins and seeing the buildings return to different moments in history

Walk into your Airbnb flat and find that the host has pre-selected a series of walkable tours from your front door. The tours include AR moments that recreate history before your eyes. The ARML is able to both recognize the ruins and know what to present. The ARML can answer questions, and offer deeper stories on the history of the place, people and cultural forces at work both then and now.

Baby’s first steps, encoded forever as a spatial AR memory.

Return home and just as your family is getting unpacked and settled in, you get an alert that 5 years ago, at this very spot, something memorable happened. You hold your phone up and see an AR overlay of one of your most precious memories—your child’s first steps. The ARML recognizes your location and which memories are most significant to you. Like Simonides’ Method of the Loci (or memory palace) in reverse, the memories emerge from the space. Happy memories carry complex emotions—both joy or delight and the poignant pang of the passing of time.

Your new medicine is delivered, but you have some questions… You hold your phone to the bottle and the ARML pharmacist walks you through all your questions. The ARML recognizes the medicine, can read the label, and can offer answers to common questions and help connect you to the right people to answers your more complex concerns. The ARML can look at the bottle and calculate how many pills are left to help you make sure you don’t miss a dose or run out without a refill on the way.

#OTJTraining in the moment #FTW

You’ve picked up a shift at a local warehouse, or maybe you’re volunteering to pack food and supplies for disaster relief, or maybe you’re shopping at a warehouse store—in any case, you’ve never been there before and don’t know where anything is located. The ARML app shows you where to go and offers mini in-the-moment video tutorials, explainers, how-tos, suggestions, and welcome & thank you messages. It sees and processes what’s around to provide the right help at the right moment.

Home after a long day of work, you open the fridge to see what to prepare for dinner either for yourself or for your family. The ARML scans your fridge, sees what’s on hand, and then makes a few suggestions on what you could cook. The app informs you how long every thing will take and how the choice will match against your health and wellness goals. Once you find something you like, it shows short video tutorials on how to prepare the meal. It also offers suggestions for upcoming meals later in the week and provides a way to order for delivery whatever ingredients you will need.

You embark on a treasure hunt to uncover art hidden in plain sight. You make it to Paris and travel to the western end of the Champs-Élysées to arrive at the Arc de Triomphe, you raise your phone (or don your favorite AR glasses) to see a site-specific dance performance emerge from the architecture. It is surprising, thrilling, and operates at a scale different from any other art you’ve ever seen. The bodies are god-like in size. The enormous monument seems to adjust before your eyes to the match a human scale of the dancers. You feel both large and small, connected and self-reliant, alone…yet together, both a visitor and a participant.

AR How to wear it videos

Back at home, your favorite fashion subscription arrives in the mail. You open your personalized box to find a selection of possible new outfits. As you raise your phone over the box, the ARML sees what’s inside and offers styling suggestions for how to wear the whole look. These suggestions incorporate the story of what inspired the look—not just how to match fabrics and colors. Point your phone at clothes you already own from the service and it remixes looks for you to show how the new pieces might work with what you already own.

I’ll periodically update this with new ARML design fiction. Hope to see you here again soon.

Thanks for reading…

James Buckhouse



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