Augmented Realities: A Fearful Future?

Robert Heinlein, an American science fiction writer, said, “Progress isn’t made by early risers. It’s made by lazy men trying to find easier ways to do something,” when asked his thoughts about progression. Here, Heinlein expresses the brutally honest opinion that advancements in technology only come around to make the life of the inventor easier. These progressions are not looked at as laziness when the public finally accepts them and integrates them in everyday life; people then look at them as advancements that make everyday life easier. Augmented Reality is a new technology waiting to make lives easier like every advance in technology before it.

The ability to write stories and information down was groundbreaking for the world. People no longer had to rely solely on word of mouth to receive any information, they could read about it from someone who was there or knew directly about it. The only issue was that stone was not easy to transport and taking it anywhere was a larger effort than it was worth. The ancient Egyptians solved that problem with the invention of papyrus (Farman 2012).

Papyrus is the first writing material similar to the paper we have today. Fast forward to 1440 and Johannes Gutenberg invents the printing press in Germany (Farman 2012). With the printing press, it is finally possible to mass-produce writings on a large scale in a short amount of time.

People were finally able to communicate and be in different area’s, but it would take an extended period of time due to how long it would take to get the letter to its destination. A way to communicate without having to deliver a message in person was greatly needed and by 1794, that request was fulfilled when the first telegram was sent (Goggin 2006). This groundbreaking technology redefined the idea of space. Never before this was anyone able to deliver a message to another person across the country instantly. Like most technological advancements, not everyone liked or supported the telegraph. In fact, the telegraph had a few very influential “haters” as it was rising to popularity. One of the most famous, Henry David Thoreau, said the telegraph would “distract our attention from serious things. They are but improved means to an unimproved end, an end which it was already but too easy to arrive at; as railroads lead to Boston or New York. We are in great haste to construct a magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas; but Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate (Farman 2012).” Here, Thoreau expresses that he does not believe mass communication is necessary. He takes the stance that just because you can do something does not mean that you should.

After almost 100 years of using the telegraph, Alexander Graham Bell demonstrates the telephone in 1877 (Goggin 2006). By 1885, Bell and partners created the first telephone company called the American Telephone and Telegraph Company, better known as AT&T. With advancements like this on a global scale, the telegraph became the first global communications network, enabling people to talk to someone across the globe. Even with all of these exciting advancements in technology, not everyone was on board for this global change. In the beginning of the 1900’s, there was only 1 telephone subscriber per 10,000 people in the USA (Ling and Donner 2009). Quickly after the century began, however, the telephone gained fans and started to gain popularity throughout the United States. As more people bought phones, more people were able to communicate with each other.

The idea of a cellular network was thought of at Bell Laboratories (Farman 2012) with the intention of creating a truly mobile way of communication. In 1973, the first call was made with a mobile handheld device made by Motorola. From then on, devices like car phones began to come out but were not widely available due to high price. In the 1990’s mobile messaging was available but not used as much as the phone due to a lack of popularity.

Today, almost everyone has a cell phone, most people have a smart phone with access to internet, people will text as opposed to call, and we are more linked to each other than ever before. It took trial and error for the cell phone to be accepted and after years, it was finally accepted. I believe the same to be true with augmented realities. Augmented realities are appealing to people because it makes life easier and directly connects us to our environment and the people around those environments. The app Layar has been developed to bring life to areas with augmented realities. People can find specific information about the area they are at or they can create messages for certain people. Professor Tony Liao and Lee Humphrey’s express their opinions on the matter in the article Layar-ed Places: Using Mobile Augmented Reality to Tactically Reengage, Reproduce, and Reappropriate Public Space. Here, they tell about the great possibilities for education and communication in augmented realities. It can be used as a source of information or as a means to communicate with others in a specific place without both people having to be in the same place at the same time.


I believe augmented realities are not as accepted at the moment because it is such a new technology. People do not know what it is, so it’s hard to ask people to pay a lot of money for something that they aren’t completely sure what it is. Another factor in it is the price. When phones first came out, not many people had them because they were very expensive. Now almost anyone can afford a phone because they are dirt-cheap. I believe they will be accepted one day, but not until the technology is better known and made more affordable to the general public.

Works Cited

Farman, Jason. (2012). “Historicizing Mobile Media: Locating Transformations of Embodied Space,” in N. Arceneaux & A. Kavoori (Eds), The Mobile Media Reader. New York: Peter Lang. P. 9-22.

Liao, T., & Humphreys, L. (2014). Layar-ed places: Using Mobile Augmented Reality to Tactically Reengage, Reproduce, and Reappropriate Public Space. New Media and Society, 1-18.

Ling, Rich and Donner, Jonathan. (2009). Mobile Communication. Malden, MA: Polity Press. Chapter 2, p. 30-48.
Goggin, Gerard. (2006). Cell Phone Culture: Mobile technology in everyday life. London: Routledge. Chapter 2, 19-40.

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