Unlimited Augmented Reality
Have you ever seen the “Le Petit Chef” animations by Skullmapping? If you haven’t seen them, check out the short Bouillabaisse episode in the clip below. They turn dinner into a show by projecting a mini chef onto your dinner table. First, the chef is shown fishing, foraging, and chopping ingredients for your dish. Next, he actually cooks the dish running into some issues along the way. They integrate comedy into the demonstration when the chef is seen battling a large octopus and a fly. Each animation is concluded with the chef coming to his end by being blown up or drowning in the entree. After the presentation, diners are served the actual meal.
This projection mapping is fun and entertaining, but what if it was real? What if the tiny chef actually demonstrated how to prepare the meal with cooking times, temperatures, and additional detailed instructions? Similar to a cooking show…just on your dinner table or in your kitchen rather than on your big screen TV.
Now imagine that you could tell the tiny chef what recipe you would like to learn. He would start by sourcing and purchasing the best ingredients for you, and then he would provide step-by-step instructions on how to prepare the recipe. He would fly all around the kitchen with you and carry a magic wand. The magic wand would illuminate certain areas of the kitchen like the refrigerator, kitchen cabinet, or knife drawer when you need a certain ingredient or utensil from that area. You could pause the instructions by telling him to go to sleep. A little bed would pop out of your kitchen counter and he would get under the covers and disappear until the next time you called his name. It would almost be like having a “Borrower genie,” except you would get more than three wishes. For those of you who don’t know, the Borrowers were depicted as tiny people in the 1997 movie The Borrowers (see picture below).
Augmented reality has the opportunity to bring this type of fiction to life. Applications like Pokemon Go and Father.IO have already started utilizing augmented reality. These games are exciting, adventurous, and are encouraging human to human connection. I’m assuming more games such as these will continue to hit the marketplace. They will become the new normal, just like the Pokemon Pocket Pikachu and other digital pets during the 1990’s. Games are a great way to introduce new technology. Their fun nature distracts the audience from the unknown aspects of something new.
Once the public is more accustomed to augmented reality they will be more open to integrating it into their daily lives. Sooner or later it will be part of multiple aspects of our day-to-day routines. Our smart phones will be one of many tools used to display augmented images. We will use a whole slew of items like glasses, contacts, visors, and wearables to display the images in our lives. Augmented reality will become the new smart phone, and at some point it will be accessible to all people.
What about the poor? According to Monica Anderson in her article The Demographics of Device Ownership, eighty six percent of households making less than 30,000 dollars per year owned smart phones in 2015. Many people think smart phones are still considered luxury items, when the contrary is true. Internet connection and cell phone use is an increasing necessity for most jobs and education. Most low-income individuals have no or limited access to the Internet. Smart phones are a lower cost way of achieving unlimited access, making these individuals smart phone dependent. The cost of smart phones and monthly coverage bills are still a financial hardship for these individuals, but the alternative is being stuck in poverty. Not having a cell phone or Internet access limits people from acquiring and sustaining jobs and education. If most low-income individuals own smart phones today, they will be able to afford augmented reality devices in the future
In most circumstances, low-income households do not have adequate access to nutritious food. They typically live in food deserts where there are no grocery stores. They are restricted to shopping for groceries in convenience stores, which rarely offer any healthy food options. This forces them to rely on a variety of processed packaged food, none of which has high nutritional value. This is one of many reasons why low-income individuals are sick and diseased.
Not only do these people have limited access to nutritional food, they are also lacking nutrition education. When they go to the grocery store, most are simply looking at the price of food items rather than their nutritional value. They do not realize the many negative implications that these packaged food items will have on their health.
I understand that purchasing low cost items is a necessity for these people. They believe buying a bulk package of Cup-O-Noodles will be more sustainable than purchasing a few fresh vegetables for the same price. That makes sense in the short-term, but what about the long-term implications? Long-term implications of eating packaged processed food on a daily basis can lead to sickness and disease. Being sick is very expensive, especially for people who cannot afford health care. It is expensive even if you can afford health care.
These are not new dilemmas; my question is how can augmented reality improve these issues? Augmented reality has the opportunity to educate and assist with improving nutrition in low-income neighborhoods. Nutrition facts can be hard to read and interpret, especially if you are lacking the education to do so. Augmented reality will do just that. Just put on your glasses, use your phone, or any other device to look at an item and you will have the ability to view more in-depth nutritional data in augmented reality.
Individuals will track their nutritional intake with their devices, providing awareness into which nutrients they are lacking — such as fiber, protein, iron, magnesium, potassium, etcetera. Next time they pick up a package of Cup-O-Noodles their augmented reality devices will advise them to purchase the item or keep searching depending on their current nutrient levels. Augmented reality will help them compare food items and alert them, which one is the best choice, taking both nutrition and price into account. This technology will force people to realize that most items sold in the convenience stores are not good for them. Eventually they will fight for more options and better solutions. Community garden spaces will flourish and traditional cooking will come back to life.
Not every neighborhood has the space to create a community garden. In these circumstances individuals will take matters into their own hands by creating vertical and rooftop garden spaces. Once again, the education barrier will have the potential to discourage participants, but it will not stop them this time. Augmented reality will be the saving grace. It will provide assurance they are capable and worthy of healthy living. Augmented reality will alert individuals when the garden needs maintenance. Some examples include: when and how much to water the garden, which plants need more sun or shade, as well as when and where plants need to be pruned.
Green spaces will not only provide nutritional value, they will also increase air quality and mental health. Green spaces alleviate mental fatigue and provide relaxation. They help restore the mind’s ability to focus, encouraging success in work and school environments. They also ease stress and depression, making them inclined to curing illnesses.
Augmented reality will also assist with the act of cooking, similar to Skullmapping’s tiny chef that I mentioned earlier. The technology will provide solutions for the healthiest and cheapest ways to prepare foods. For example, it will suggest roasting rather than frying chicken. Then it will walk you through the steps of how to prepare the chicken, and the quickest way to accomplish each task along the way. It will suggest using the food processor rather than chopping your herbs for optimal efficiency. No need to preset the oven or set the timer, the system will do the work for you.
The interactive nature of augmented reality promotes household and community cooking environments. With the Internet, ordinary household cooks have access to more recipes than they can think of. The challenge now becomes our ability to execute these recipes. Augmented reality will benefit any visual learner. The system will teach you anything from basic knife skills to deboning a chicken. The cooking show will appear on your kitchen counter. Before we know it children will want to be part of the action. Why watch cooking shows like Top Chef or Chopped when augmented reality can set the stage in your home?
Low-income individuals will benefit from this technology more than anyone. It will not only influence their food choices and nutrition levels. It will have the ability to educate the population on many different levels from writing and rhetoric to financial planning. Augmented reality will give them capabilities they could have only dreamed of…just like having a magic genie in their pockets.
Anderson, Monica. “The Demographics of Device Ownership.” Pew Research Center, 15 October. 2009, http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/10/29/the-demographics-of-device-ownership.