Whether it’s the Microsoft HoloLens, Sony SmartEyeglasses, Meta 2 or the Atheer Air Glasses, the world is starting to embrace the idea of augmented reality technology. AR allows users to engage with digital content in the most immersive way imaginable. From field-of-vision (FoV) to 3D gesture-controlled interaction, Augmented Reality is a versatile platform designed to blur the lines between reality and the fictional world.
The Darker Side of Technology
In a recent Sci-Fi short film entitled, “Strange Beasts,” thousands of Vimeo viewers were introduced to the darker side of technology. Strange Beasts, written and directed by Magali Barbé, is a creative narrative about the next generation of augmented reality gaming. With the world focused on getting AR and VR prototypes in the hands of consumers, it may be time to stop and think about the negative impact of perpetuating an alternative reality.
Barbe’s film is narrated by the main character Victor Weber – an augmented reality game developer – who used nano-retina technology to build a revolutionary game called, “Strange Beasts.” Weber, in the hopes of enticing the audience to purchase his creation, talks about the benefits of growing a “creature of your own” to be their personal companion – just like a household pet. We are introduced to Anna – the “little girl” in the film – reaping the benefits of “Blooby” – her very own creature creation that never leaves her side. She is introduced as Weber’s daughter.
Weber’s creation “Walter” and Anna creature “Blooby” are close and it appears that they are both happy with their new digital companions. Soon, the light-hearted warmth of the short becomes ominous when the audience slowly realizes the relationship between Weber and his creature is very similar to his relationship with his daughter Anna. He treats her like his own little monster – feeding her the same snacks. We come to find out that she is not his daughter after all but just another one of his game creations. Weber is all alone and interacting with his Imaginary Family as if they were his – masking his loneliness – accepting his manufactured reality.
Filmmaker Magali Barbé
In an interview with the Huffington Post, filmmaker Magali Barbé was asked about the inspiration behind Strange Beasts:
“I’m fascinated by the theory that the future of humanity will be fully digital and that it will lose its material side. People see it as either the end of the future of humanity. It’s an interesting question… Technologies make things faster, easier to reach, easier to connect. What I find scary, though, is how fast it’s developing. And I’m sure I’m not the only one.”
With the sudden uptick of developers integrating state-of-the-art AR/VR technology into headsets and eyewear, it seems like we’re on the cusp of a new digital era – one that has a deep relationship between the digital and “the real thing.” As Magali Barbé so eloquently concluded in her Huffington Post interview:
“That feeling that the virtual world has taken over the physical world is something that I think a lot of us can identify with.”