Is Projection Mapping Augmented Reality?

Is projection mapping augmented reality?

I’ve been mulling this over on and off since a few years ago, since being utterly mesmerized by Amon Tobin’s projection mapping concert.  And since this made the rounds in 2015. My knee jerk reaction is – no!

Upon further reflection, I’m not so sure. It augments the real world with enhanced data; so why not? Does augmented reality have to mean enhanced information, or does it include *any* data overlay (even just the pretty kind) – and so what if the digital being overlaid, maps to the surface and doesn’t extend it? Does it require that the augmented data only be seen through a screen?

This spectacular example of  projection mapping brought the issue back in my mind.

The Houston Museum of Natural Science’s Energy City installation in Wiess Energy Hall spent 2 years developing this 2,500 square feet cutting edge projection mapping installation, using 32 projectors, 11 media servers, and 6 kilometers of fiber. Called “Energy City”, it’s a 3D miniature landscape representing the city of Houston Texas. Custom content is synced with physical animations to bring the city to life.

Because we’re in the beginning of all of this, there’s a lot of discussion {argument} over semantics. Ref: Kevin Kelly‘s recent Mirrorworld article for Wired answered in short order by Ori Inbar‘s “Mirrorworld v. AR Cloud or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Spatial Future” – where he discusses using the term “Mirrorworld” as that means, reflection, rather than enhancement. AR/VR/XR/MR – what do we *call* it all is a heated discussion right now. While I’m staying out of that one (although for the record’s sake, I prefer “Mixed reality” for it all) – I can live with Projection Mapping being considered AR.

A minor point, but one worth chewing on, if only briefly. Does it really matter? Will this particular rose smell as sweet with any of those names? – I think it matters, in that it makes the whole already confusing to the mass market subject, that more confusing. Does it really matter that VR is immersive and AR overlays onto the physical world, when those boundaries are blurring? Are we parsing too properly, and missing sight of the bigger picture? – which is, that whatever you call it, the AR/VR/MR/XR industry needs to grow.

The Need for Speed

Note: this is the text from a Linkedin post I wrote, in response to a post by Cathy Hackl, She visited a concept store that features Alipay’s “smile to pay” facial recognition payment technology. Here’s her video: 

As I’ve written about before, I have some very serious reservations about facial recognition technology and how it will completely remove any semblance of privacy or anonymity.

Putting that aside, this has a high “neat” factor. Not sure that I need my hamburger that *split second* faster, and I’d like to know more about how security around it works – but in essence it’s little different than using your phone to pay.

And unfortunately, it’s inevitable. What I am worried about is having our biometric data stored in so many databases, where we have no knowledge or control over how the data is stored and used. Yes the credit card company already know things about us, and can track us through transactions and location. But those things are still things that can be stopped; change accounts, banks, and your data is not permanent and persistent. Your face is yours, forever.

Amara’s law states that, “We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run.” It certainly seems to apply.