Blended Reality

The displacement threat that the digital world poses to the physical one increases each year as technology makes the (cheaper and more flexible) virtual environment less distinguishable from the real one. That tide is unstoppable. However, a defence for the real world can also be found in the same technology. Augmented or blended reality has the potential to enhance the real-world experience in ways that were not possible previously. This week Amazon secured a patent for a ‘Blended Reality System’, primarily designed for use in retail stores. Taking the form of a mirror, the tool allows users to try on clothes without actually putting them on – goodbye changing rooms? Some of the light from the mirror is reflected (e.g. your face), whereas other light is projected (e.g. the ‘dress’ that you are trying on). The two are blended together into a seamless image. This is an example of tech that takes the best from each world to provide an experience that is better than either. It feels inevitable that our world will become increasingly ‘augmented’ over the next 10 years to the extent where the lines between each will become obscured.