What’s going on here?
When a tram/light rail is approaching, an augmented reality holographic barrier materialises along the path of the tram, making it more visible for pedestrians and cars, giving us more time to notice and react.
What does this mean?
This happened to me the other day while walking down one of the main streets in Jerusalem, where both pedestrians and trams share the street.
I’ve walked this street plenty of times before and I know the trams are there. But this particular day was a Friday when trams finish running early out of respect for the Sabbath. They weren’t meant to be on the street. So there I was, with my earphones in my ears listening to a podcast, walking on the tracks, when I notice someone gesturing at me from the corner of my eyes. They were telling me to look behind me. I take my earphones off, turn around, and come face to face with a tram inches away, beeping like mad. Quite embarrassed, I dart off the tracks, and as I do, I notice right there, on the tram, in bright orange letters, one word — Depot.
Humans have eyes that point forward, and unless some of us have taken up certain educational roles, we aren’t blessed with a second set on the back of our heads. We are already quite focused on what’s in front of us. Add to this earphones in our ears, (and increasingly throughout the day) we really start losing those senses that inform us of our surroundings.
These technologies are slowly blocking off our natural senses, and our surroundings, and this is a problem. We are losing the ability to engage properly with the world around us.
And this is where Augmented Reality will be different. It augments our reality, namely our five senses. It allows us to both live inside our world, to interact with it, and to be connected to the digital world, at the same time.
You can see where I’m going with this… if we can do this, why not augment our vision? To add something that allows us to be aware of things that are going on behind us, and things that might be around the corner.
And this is what Augmented Reality is. It augments our reality, namely our five senses.
A holographic barrier or a visual projection of some sort would have definitely saved me that day. Rising up out of the ground on either side of me, letting me know that there was a tram approaching from behind. (What about adding a timer, showing me exactly when that tram is going to pass this spot.)
Why should I care?
Much like what happened to me, I’m sure you’ve walked onto the road before without taking all precautions. It’s happened to all of us.
My point is we all know we need to be aware of our surroundings when we walk on or cross the road, but sometimes we get very caught up in whatever it happens to be at that moment and don’t pay attention. We become complacent. It’s something we do every day and we think we’ve mastered it. We won’t get into an accident — until we do.
This barrier is in no way a reason to stop being vigilant. It’s here to act as an aid, much like when we wear reflective vests at night or have school crossings near the school. It should be seen as a way to help us, to give us extra time, to be prepared. It should be seen as an augmentation to our senses, and not as a replacement.
And hopefully will save lives while doing so.
What is 2025?
Everyday use-cases of Augmented Reality. Too often people either associate AR with a gimmicky game (Pokemon Go) or a fantastical SciFi world (Iron Man) that has nothing to do with them or the real world. With ‘2025’ I want to change that perception.
Other stories in the 2025 series
One more thing
My goal for 2018 is to reach 500 followers. So if you like my articles on AR, and you love the approach, please follow and share with your best friends!