Musings on Mixed Reality
Awaiting Apple's Mixed Reality Headset
Apple’s about to announce its first foray into mixed reality, an advanced AR/VR headset destined to transport wearers into immersive new realms of connection. It will be the latest attempt by Apple to redefine human connection through media.
When I started writing this, it wasn’t meant as another speculative piece on how mixed reality might change the world. I remain doubtful people will opt for extended time in clunky and costly headsets. Yet experience warns against betting against Apple in matters of hardware. So, somewhat against initial intention, this is me waxing poetic about the world that could emerge should Apple finally propel us into mixed reality. Perhaps I’m just another fanboy, but if any company can navigate that elusive shoal between human needs and technological possibility, it would be Apple.
Each new medium, from cuneiform to encryption, alters the nature of community and relationship. The telegraph swiftly connected distant hearts; radio gave voices to the voiceless. Social platforms have made connection constant and performative, as if living life connected to an audience. Virtual and augmented reality promise connection unbound from the corporeal world. No longer confined to sharing thoughts or images after an experience, but sharing experience itself, as lived in a virtual space. What changes when our realities can be shared, not just described? When distance collapses not into text or image, but into a dimensional shift that transports us, Alice in Wonderland-esque, across time and space?
The potential for human connection may be both the means and end of whatever new realities Apple has coded into being. Its devices spread through networks, even as they are networks made manifest, a map of humankind overlaid onto the world. Each heartbeat pulses out a steady beat of intimacy and alienation, and technology quickens the pulse.
New realities bring both promise and surcease, profoundly reshaping the connections between us. How fitting that a company so adept at consecrating intimacy through glass and metal would turn its alchemist’s furnace to distilling human connection into a vaporous stream, fit to flow across the chasms that separate us. The medium is still the message, however rarefied the medium becomes. All else perishes if technology doesn’t join lives and souls. Let’s not forget: connection remains its most fundamental, and lasting, purpose.
With skepticism and anticipation, see you on the other side?
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