Sight: An 8-Minute Augmented Reality Journey [Video]

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Sight, a short, science fiction film by Israeli student filmmakers Eran May-raz and Daniel Lazo is a brilliant take on the emerging world of augmented reality (AR)—the technology behind Google‘s goofy glasses. The film, a graduation project in the Screen-Based Arts Department of Bezaleal academy of arts, in Jerusalem, details a fictional user interface capable of not just augmenting, but controlling, reality—through retinal implants.

The video comes out at an interesting time for AR, just after Google’s “Glass Explorers” have received their welcome letters and amid suggestions through patent activity that Apple may be at work on its own “iGlasses.” What May-raz and Lazo have done is to take consumer AR to its logical, and terrifying, conclusion based on what is happening in the present moment.

Their ideas are not wholly original, but they are beautifully executed. A post about the film on VentureBeat points out the similarity of many aspects of the scenario to a particular Star Trek: Original Series episode. And in terms of Google Glass, Lazo wrote in an email to VentureBeat, “The Google Glass video just came out about a day or two after we started work on Sight. It was pretty cool; it kind of gave us an affirmation that we’re on the right path.


[toggle title_open="Show the Content" title_closed="Hide the Content" hide="true" ]The film depicts a day in the life of an engineer for a fictional company called Sight Systems, at some point in the near future. One of the amusing things is that his apartment is almost entirely bare because the contact lens-like implants in his eyes project a data environment on the bare walls. At the beginning we see him playing a kind of virtual reality game, at the successful conclusion of which he has an expression of post-coital bliss.

One of the effects of the immersive augmented reality software that we see through his eyes is that everything in his life is “gamified.” Every action is rated by difficulty level, every scenario is broken into steps and coached, and every successful action rewarded. You will never look at slicing a cucumber the same way again!

The engineer, played by Ori Golad, has an odd sort of affect that seems to be caused by the distractions of the virtual world impinging on the “real.” We know when we are seeing through his eyes not only because of the overlay of game-like graphics, but also because of the subtle artifacts on the edge of his vision that seem to threaten to encroach on his visual field.

The arc of the short but well-developed story leads to a “blind date” with a Sight Systems customer, played by Deborah Aroshas. What only becomes clear as the date progresses is that the engineer has the app power on his side (among other things he’s using a dating app called “Wingman.”) and has admin privileges that let him know (literally) everything about her.

Once back at his apartment for a nightcap, his smooth moves are undone when she sees his apps proudly displayed as trophy plaques on the (virtual) wall, including “Wingman.” The putative hookup is derailed as he is revealed to be a data-driven creeper. Or is it? The cliffhanger ending leaves you wondering exactly how much control of her “system” he can take.

“Sight” is both send up and cultural critique of the reach of technology into our lives and personal relationships and what, ultimately, we will do with it. It is fast-paced and amusing, but also asks important questions. To paraphrase visionary English Romantic poet William Blake, [italics my alteration] “If the doors of perception are controlled, the threat to freedom will appear to man as it is, Infinite.”[/toggle]

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