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What Our Near Future Might Look Like

Artists have always had an interesting interpretation of what our future might look like by fusing together technology with philosophical concepts, often with a cheeky sense of humour. 

If we are to create the future, it is important to first envision it. Film has always been a medium in which we have had glimpses into what the future may hold. Blade Runner (1982) showed us a world of emotive humanoid androids, Logan's Run (1976) integrated concepts of wearable tech and virtual reality headsets, and of course, Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994) predicted all the technology we would use today and still are developing: the tablet computer, A.I. assistants (communicator pin), nanofactories that output food (replicator), virtual and augmented reality (Holodek), transfer of energy via resonant inductive coupling (transporter) and more.

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At the Victoria & Albert museum, London. A robot is creating a hive-like sculpture. 

Other artists have their interpretation of A.I. In 2014, an animatronic doll performed a rather disturbing dance in an installation at the David Zwirner Gallery in New York City by the artist Jordan Wolfson.

In the realm of augmented reality, filmmakers give us a glimpse of emerging developing technologies. Sight (2014) shows us a world of video games, profiling, dating and interior design- all set within the augmented reality contact lens

Keiichi Matsuda, a London-based artist and designer, creates a colourful collage of adverts, supermarket shopping, customer service and points-gathering in the short film Hyper-Reality (2016), a project he began in 2013 on kickstarter.  

Aside from the deluge of visual information, the soundscape of Hyper-Reality shows us what our future might look like when language no longer becomes a barrier in communication. The dialogue focuses on multiple languages translated at once and creates an interesting dichotomy of sound + image. His previous exploration into augmented reality showed us a holographic world of superimposed brands, features, biometrics and social networking in Domestic Robocop (2010).

"The latter half of the 20th century saw the built environment merged with media space, and architecture taking on new roles related to branding, image and consumerism. Augmented reality may recontextualise the functions of consumerism and architecture, and change in the way in which we operate within it." Keiichi Matsuda

Thus far, several CEOs of AR companies have predicted the end of smartphones replaced by augmented reality. Magic Leap founder Rony Abovitz  and Meta CEO Meron Gribetz both  have spoken about their goal of replacing 2D computing with AR headsets. 

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However, I wouldn't dismiss mobile devices just yet. Estar-Takee's launched their holographic phones just two years ago, and Apple also was granted a patent for a gesture control, glasses-free, holographic phone in 2014. It could be that in the near future, we might have a variety of devices available to us to communicate in novel and colourful ways. It is likely that AR will merge with mobile, and perhaps become compact enough so that we might simply wear as pins on our lapels.