You need to know when your AirTaxi pickup time is. You think for a moment and the answer pops into your mind in less than a few milliseconds. You suddenly remember to catch up with your friend over in Shanghai and you reach out to him. A flood of joy washes over your mind as the connection is established. He allows you to traverse through his feelings and of a recent holiday as you connect with each other. A virtual message notification pops up in front of your eyes but intuitively, you will it to go away. You feel the AirTaxi landing outside and start walking towards it, through automatic doors, and allow it to carry out an invisible memory check before sitting down…
What is the point of learning how to drive? Or how to play games with a controller? Or using a computer with an old-fashioned mouse?
There isn’t one. Think about it for a moment — why do you use a smartphone? To catch up with friends and family, to stay connected with the real world, to read the news, to scroll mindlessly on Instagram? Correct.
These are current requirements of society, and as technology evolves, so does the needs of mankind . But staring at a screen of blue light and changing our brain chemistry is not a need.
It is a side effect. It is inefficient. And it is hurting us.
Almost every time you whip out your phone, you are missing an opportunity you will never have again — that moment will be lost forever, whether that’s with your significant other after a long day of work, or on the London underground. You will most likely never be able to come across that scenario again, with the same people and the same thoughts running through their minds in the same posture with the same air quality…OK, you get it.
Unless you somehow invent a time machine, and manage to kill your clone self without anybody noticing.
The point is, in a broader perspective, throughout our daily lives, to get from point A to point B requires a series of complex thoughts, actions and decisions which is highly inefficient.
Take for example, getting on a bus. You get onto it to reach destination X. But you have to go through the process of fumbling with your wallet, misread scans and pressing the stop button before you even reach destination X. In an ideal scenario, you should be able to just walk on, get directed to a seat, according to your needs or who you are with, and then get a reminder that your stop is approaching. All through your mind.
What if you could make something happen, just with a simple thought? No more learning curves. Just intuition — our natural selves.
Mixed reality is becoming a fast-growing market, with even smaller startups jumping into the already crowded field. And the aim? To allow us to see our imagination come to life.
These companies expect us to lug around large expensive headsets on our heads, and there is a growing trend in saying that this is the next big leap in personal devices. But would you wear one of those?
All we want to do is to do what we do on a phone without one, and utilize the added benefits of interacting with our real environment, in a virtual manner.
As soon as you ask a user to make compromises, the product cannot become mainstream. In this case, the user has to compromise on portability, looks and having a huge pair of goggles on their head.
Honestly, I believe Magic Leap is working towards building an amazing platform for app and game developers, and will soon be capable of much more as they mature. But headsets in general I feel, will not become mainstream until they become the size and weight of a normal pair of glasses or are morphed into smart contact lenses. Instead, they will remain as means for entertainment.
But here is another thought.
What these headsets do is show you a display so that the whole process of the light reflected on the retina and conveyed by the optic nerve is carried, before being processed by the brain.
But what if it were possible to edit the visual stream before being processed, by intercepting the optic nerve?
Once we manage to connect our brains with the digital world, we would have jumped forward in our journey through evolution. It will be the next giant leap for mankind.
If such technology becomes mainstream, new markets and possibilities will emerge rapidly to utilize this new network. Strict standards, laws and regulations must be passed beforehand, as this is our minds we are talking about.
So what exactly would the point be of connecting our minds be, I hear you ask?
Through this hypothetical brain network, with the right system in place, everything contained inside our skull can be interfaced with the real world.
Using your intuition
One of the greatest advantages of such an interface is the use of intuition, maximizing productivity tenfold in daily life.
Intuition is described as “the ability to understand something instinctively, without the need for conscious reasoning.”
No more learning how to use email, when all you need is to send a message. No more fiddling with a remote control, trying out random buttons and seeing what happens. No more dragging around boarding passes, when all you need is a flight.
To put it simply, no more time wasting. Learning curves would be straight lines.
Sharing your thoughts and memories
Those moments when you try so hard to explain something, but nothing seems to work. Or those times when you try to describe a memory, but words are not enough to convey its beauty.
Your imagination could be overlayed over the real world, through which ideas may be shared with others in a simple manner. Instead of spending time learning CAD and simulation design and software for example, you should be able imagine and build models visually, with your thoughts and visual feed forming a feedback loop.
In the future, one would be able to physically simulate emotion and memories and thoughts in the other’s mind, meaning communication barriers will be no more. Also, telepathy will become a reality.
Multiple languages around the world are the side effect of different groups of people developing in different places around the world. Such a device would remove language barriers and allow humans to converse freely, through raw thoughts — a new mode of communication.
Passing on knowledge and experience
“It’s strange to think that you accumulate all this experience, and maybe a little wisdom, and it just goes away. So I really want to believe that something survives, that maybe your consciousness endures.” — Steve Jobs
Whilst reading Jobs’ biography, this quote struck a chord and I could not stop thinking about the harsh reality of passing away — a switch turning off power. Absolute nothing.
The total sum of knowledge is rapidly expanding, whilst students try to keep up with such pace. The process of learning is being constantly repeated throughout the world, to try and grasp theory, concepts, facts, figures… to get to a point where one is capable of uniquely contributing to the field.
But surely, repeating what already has been done, is inefficient? Perhaps, there will a vast bank of human knowledge, stored digitally, in a format accessible by the mind and the BCI. I know, Google comes to mind, but the data should be clean and simple. Photographic memory would just become another feature of such a system, with personal digital information hosted in the cloud.
Perhaps, digital avatars could be created to retain wisdom and experience, even after one has passed, and they could provide guidance. One could choose one of many avatars and ask questions for guidance. Who knows?
By harnessing the mind’s senses, a whole new world opens up, whilst removing the need for physical devices such as phones, TVs and consoles. A virtual world, perhaps overlayed over reality. Every notification, call, reminder, app, message… will be commanded by your will.
Literally, anything would be possible. Even your imagination would not be the limit…
These are just a taste of would be possible, and there is so much potential that cannot possibly be envisioned until such technology becomes a reality.
The intersection between technology, design and neuroscience is a field in its infancy but is a sector of huge potential. Enough to reformat society as we know it, as such devices become mainstream in the far future.
One company comes to mind: Neuralink. As their Twitter bio says, they are
“Developing high bandwidth brain-machine interfaces to connect humans and machines.”
This is exactly the kind of technology that can take humanity to the next level — the next step in human evolution.
To conclude, this article boils down to a simple question:
How can we do said action with minimum effort required?
Good product design is the key to efficiency, and in turn user experience — if such technology is possible in the first place. Although a simple concept, this is difficult in practice as we are used to thinking — there is a disconnect between our raw thoughts and our external reality.
Bridging this gap is the end goal: reaching our true potential with near 100% efficiency. But for now, this will remain a bubble in the realms of sci-fi fantasy.
Thank you for reading — feel free to share your thoughts and ideas below.
Previously published at https://medium.muz.li/turning-your-imagination-into-reality-literally-36a443e9500c