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Through the Looking Glass

A day in the life in the not too distant future.

Dad and Mom are awakened by their scented VR sleep wraps:  Dad with a simulated mountain sunrise, and Mom on a peaceful meadow.  They change into their daywear - lightweight, hybrid reality designer glasses and haptic smart rings.  In the kitchen, Mom browses new breakfast recipes in AR, while Dad parses an AR article on the discontinuation of the world's last remaining smart phone model, the Freedom 2051.  Their preschool Daughter flails through an AR storybook while chatting with her digital imaginary friend (which her parents have secretly configured to be visible to everyone in the family).

Dad prepares to take his pudgy teenage Son to school (brick-and-mortar education made mandatory by the "Present and Accounted For" school attendance bill, passed into law after a spike in childhood obesity).  Their trip in the family car starts out in driverless mode, as Dad tries to discuss his Son's recent victimization by cyber-bullies (who anchored an AR pig's head to his face).  But the boy has withdrawn into a VR game, so Dad redirects the car's AR windshield display to his hybrid glasses, takes the wheel and shifts into simulated driver mode.  The sense of control is a relief.  Context-sensitive, niche-marketed AR billboards (increasingly pervasive despite AR ad-blocker software) flicker throughout the cityscape.

Meanwhile, Mom's latest AR home shopping spree is interrupted by a holopresence visit from her doctor, who delivers the good news:  benign.  Overcome with relief, Mom pinches the doctor's hologram shut and bursts into tears while completing Tmall America's drone delivery order form.  She pours herself an early drink, but the reverie doesn't last long as a pair of Chechen Jehovah's Witnesses come knocking, their AR translation subtitles penetrating the locked door of the house.  Mom triggers the home's new VR flare, which sends the unwanted solicitors screaming from the porch as they tear off their headsets to escape the sensory bombardment.

That afternoon, their Son returns home from a day of values-tuned VR education, custom-tailored with parental settings as a form of public "home schooling."  He shuffles to his room (skinned with forbidden AR content) and loses himself in a 360-degree VR rock concert.  Dad assembles Mom's new coat rack with the accompanying AR instruction app, and then retreats to his study to finish a quarterly report for his company (which is still recovering from the VR "Snow Crash" of 2019).  While wrangling an MR keyboard and spreadsheets, his boss shows up unannounced via hologram to underscore the deadline.  Stressed by the intrusion, Dad needs a break.  His haptic VR porn suit was found and trashed by Mom weeks ago, so Dad swipes through a stream of VR experience channels, temporarily engaging an immersive army recruitment ad encouraging him to "Be all that someone else can be."  He settles for quarterbacking a VR football game, with his wife's face mapped to a photo-real digital cheerleader of cartoonish proportions.  Life is good.

Kevin Geiger's picture

Kevin is the author of AWN's Reality Bites blog, his musings on the art, technology and business of immersive media (AR, VR, MR) and AI. You can find Kevin's website at www.kevingeiger.com and he can be reached at holler@kevingeiger.com.

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