It’s no secret: our online lives are monitored by marketers. They learn about us, then deliver highly targeted ads.
This isn’t necessarily bad. After all, viewing the right ad at the right time allows us to act on an offer we may otherwise miss.
Yet targeted marketing can also encourage the purchasing of things you don’t need. Users could grow to love unnecessary, frivolous products and become repeat customers. In other words, it’s a slippery slope to excessive consumerism.
With technology now very much ingrained in our way of life, will greedy marketing tactics only get worse?
Some people think so. Artists such as Designer and filmmaker Keiichi Matsuda have depicted their vision of how excessive advertising could affect the merging of mixed reality with everyday life, and it isn’t pretty.
We’ve already seen how augmented reality can integrate into real-world settings. Games like Pokémon GO enable players to see in-game characters layered over real-world locations. It’s understandable that some consider this type of virtual enhancement to be among some of the first steps towards augmented advertising.
The New Responsibility of AR/VR Developers
Let’s be clear: It’s not okay to bombard people with irrelevant content and violate people’s privacy with useless gimmicks.
Developers and product designers of AR and VR have to have unwavering moral compasses. We have the immense opportunity, and responsibility, to create an environment that is different from the commercialized situations we often find ourselves in today.
Otherwise, much like in Matsuda’s portrayal — the person at the core of the tech will likely become overwhelmed and want to escape.
We at VU believe the future of mixed reality is going to be far less intrusive, as long as we maintain an awareness of consumer rights and dignity. We expect the digitally-assistive technology of the future is likely to be akin to a butler service — reminiscent of Tony Stark’s aid Jarvis in Iron Man.
This tech will have fewer mindless pop-ups and more useful AI and computing that provides actual assistance. With advanced AI will come the ability to read emotions and mood, enabling such services to connect with a person and provide the information accordingly.
The monetization of mixed-reality games, in particular, needs to be carefully handled. Gamers want to feel a sense of freedom and discover a different world through unhindered play. We don’t want to mar that experience with content that is not relevant and annoying to the user.
Putting the User First
Of course, we can’t completely ignore that new tech gives new opportunities to deliver refined experiences. We could better understand of how people act in certain scenarios. We might be able to gather useful feedback on how to improve physical products through ‘try before you buy’ options.
However, by no means should these items be forced into a user’s peripherals as a must have. Subtlety and personal choice are key.
It’s easy to ruin what should be a fun and easy experience with greed and over-zealous marketing. We see this every day as we pass billboards, open our laptops or turn on our phones. AR and VR can be different.