For long, the entertainment industry has dabbled in mirror world. Be it Hollywood, anime or games, there are countless examples — Ready Player One, Sword Art Online, Pokemon Go and Assassins Creed to name a few — where an all encompassing virtual world is a key element of the plot.
While it’s still too early to create a similar world in reality, the technology behind it — virtual reality (VR) — has made giant strides in recent years.
However, unlike virtual reality, where one wears an opaque headset to log in to the virtual world, the mirror world will use augmented reality (AR) as the base technology. The mirror world has shown promise and can be the next evolution in our journey.
As of 2109, there are already patches of mirror worlds that we can experience via Google Earth or Microsoft HoloLens.
While the experience leaves a lot to be desired, we can expect a lot more with IoT (Internet of Things) and virtual assistants set to become mainstays in the near future.
In the mirror world, as the name of the base technology suggests, augments or adds upon the current reality. This is the primary difference between AR and VR and is the reason that all the big tech firms — Google, Microsoft, Tesla and even Apple — are trying to get a pie of it.
Citing The Lord of the Rings movie as a reference, Keiichi Matsuda, former creative director for Leap Motion, a company that develops a hand-gesture technology for AR, explains, “Mirror worlds immerse you without removing you from the space. You are still present, but on a different plane of reality. Think Frodo when he puts on the One Ring. Rather than cutting you off from the world, they form a new connection to it,” he said.
The Big Race
As expected, all the big tech firms have put their names into the hat as they compete to find the right business model and emerge as the winner.
Like Facebook in the era of social media or Google in the early days of Internet, whoever wins the race is set to become wealthy and not just in terms of money but also in terms of data.
But these companies are also likely to face strong challenges from the various governments and other non-tech firm where AR has already started to play a major role to help ease the life of workers.
So, it begs the question that in the era of mirror world where will the new technologies such as IoT (Internet of Things), artificial intelligence (AI), big data and machine learning (ML) that are just beginning to have an impact in real world, stand.
While IoT will play the key role of data points, other technologies will also play a significant role. The mirror world will need a constant stream of high definition images to render at a constant speed to keep a 3D-model of physical reality updated at all times.
So the need for eyes or more specifically cameras will be addressed by technologies such as the automated vehicles, AI-enabled IoT devices. Moreover, virtual assistants such as Siri and Alexa will have a humanoid-like virtual body to act as our guide in the Mirror World.
Like every technological progress, the mirror world will present its own unique challenges and benefits. Thanks to the recent data breaches, privacy concerns have hit the mainstream big time. The mirror world will only enhance that risk and leave us vulnerable further to newer threats.
Another issue would be the Big Brother-like scenario that’s already a challenge with countries like China and North Korea dictating the content of Internet.
Even the founder of Internet Tim Berners-Lee has in the recent past called for the regulation of the web to avoid it being weaponised.
This open world also has the challenge of being open to spams, and over personalised ads like the ones that we come across the social media in our daily lives.
Another technology, however, can prove to be the saviour for the mirror world and is already ready for use i.e. Blockchain.
It can ensure that the integrity of an open mirror world. There are people already working on that right now. However, it is not too difficult to imagine scenarios where the mirror world is extensively centralised, perhaps by the government.
In conclusion, the mirror world is likely to face even stricter norms as the business model — similar to that of the social media — may have a new winner who takes it all and thus amalgamates our digital and real life to an unimaginable extent.
Since the early days of the internet, people have been living a dual life that the mirror world brings an end with the amalgamation. However, it must be ensured that the winner is regulated in such a manner that this world can’t be weaponised.
But it is still early days and if the current pace of technological evolution continues, it will take at least a decade before millions are willing to log in to this world.
While one can map out the basic nature of this new world, it would be difficult to image what a matured mirror world would look like as it would take several decades following its rollout....