Teaching the Old Dog (Telephone) New Tricks (Augmented Reality)

The notion of the phrase “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” has never been so false when dealing with mobile media. Throughout the years, the world has witnessed the birth of revolutionary technologies for media that have changed the way people communicate, see, listen, and connect. The ability to explore ideas, events, thoughts, and much more have been culminated by the creation of such mobile technologies such as the printing press, telephone, and cell phone, in that exact order. These days, the world is very future-oriented and is continuing to innovate strategic forms of mobile media with creations that deal with the concept of augmented reality. As humans, we have a profound need to share words, ideas, and information, and augmented reality takes things to the next level. This modern form of reality is being defined and redefined on a daily basis and can provide a strong view of mobile media’s historic journey.

Mobile technology has an extremely lengthy history that spans all the way back into the times of the ancient Egyptians. Papyrus was created as the first form of portable communication (Farman 2012). Before this was created, inscriptions into stone were the main way things were recorded. Between this time and the development of the printing press in the early 1400s, writing on paper was the main way to connect, which made it difficult to get information out to a broader audience. The creation of the printing press lead to further innovation in mobile media and took the next step into mass communication (Farman 2012). In the early 1800s, telegraphs were introduced but not all were enthusiastic about the newest form of communication (Goggin 2006). For example, in the “1850s, Henry David Thoreau criticize[d] the telegraph, saying that it will ‘distract our attention from serious things’ such as the creation of the railroad (Farman 2012). Other important developments in society were deemed as things of higher priority, and the telegraph simply did not fit in that mold. Although it was an improvement in mobile media, there were so many other innovations being handled during that time that were just as revolutionary. We can clearly see that being an issue during those times, as it is still an issue today with current and newer mobile media trends being introduced to the world.

Printing Press
Printing Press

The famous telephone was introduced during the late 1800s, creating a new path of connection and by the end of the 19th century, the telegraph was introduced globally, which allowed communication via mobile media to reach the masses (Goggin 2006). Mobile media was becoming as portable as ever as it hit global audiences and was accepted by many who were able to attain these new devices. By 1920, the telephone was available for private use, which extended into many markets such as aerospace and the military, to telecommunications and within the workplace (Goggin 2006). Telephones were becoming more commonplace and had continued to dominate mobile media for decades. By the late 1970s, cellular systems were on the rise and were taken globally, but did not hold as much importance as they do today (Goggin 2006). Fast forwarding into the early 2000s into the present day, there have been many alternative uses to communicate on mobile devices. GPS systems, Internet, text messaging, and face time software are just some of the many applications that are readily available at the fingertips of the consumer. Now, in the 21st century, there is a concept called augmented reality that will be the next rising innovation in mobile media.

Augmented reality allows users to connect on a creative level through social and electronic media. What exactly is this new phenomenon? Augmented reality (AR) is defined as “a technology that mixes the real environment with the virtual, is registered in three-dimensions, real-time, and interactive” (Liao 2014). Why is this important and what is the appeal? The value and ownership of augmented reality represents is a deeper depth of communication. AR has no transparent perception of reality – the appeal is driven by the fact that face-to-face contact is not necessary to communicate. All you need is a cell phone or computer to create your own reality. How soon should we expect this? Examples of AR, such as the Pepsi Max Bus Shelter test, have been experimented with for a little over a decade.

Google Glass is a prime illustration of how the future could potentially look for us around the world. AR is coming to us, but there are so many different kinds of issues to look out for. In order to make augmented reality an actual experience, we have to take privacy, space, and even marketing efforts (within AR) seriously. Will this take over the way we communicate as a whole? What kind of people will be allowed to use it? Is this going to change the way socialization is maintained? These are some of the many questions that are in place that is pushing back the public release of augmented reality technologies, and time will tell on whether or not this will be a positive development in mobile media.


Works Cited

Farman, J. (2012). “Historicizing Mobile Media: Locating the Transformations of Embodied Space”. In The Mobile Media Reader (Vol. 73, pp. 9-22). New York: Peter Lang. Retrieved 2015, February 1 from https://mobmedsp15.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/farman-jason-historicizing-mobile-media.pdf

Goggin, G. (2006). “Making voice portable: The early history of the cell phone”. In Cell Phone Culture: Mobile technology in everyday life (pp. 19-40). London: Routledge. Retrieved 2015, February 1 from https://mobmedsp15.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/goggin-gerard-cell-phone-culture_ch-2.pdf

Liao, T. (2015, January 28). “Emerging Mobile Technology – Augmented Reality.” Mobile Media, MSP 4541, Spring 2015. Lecture conducted from Temple University, Philadelphia, PA.

Liao, T. and Humphreys, L. (2014). “Layer-ed places: Using mobile augmented reality to tactically reengage, reproduce, and reappropriate public space”. Retrieved 2015, February 1 from https://mobmedsp15.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/liao_humphreys_layared-places.pdf

Mobile History Timeline (2014, January 20). Retrieved 2015, February 1 from https://docs.google.com/document/d/1RN1XNQk3yVSW13clV6EqBoECU5jrDEVHAUN6mGKLWjY/edit?pli=1

Pepsi Max. (2014, March 20). Unbelievable Bus Shelter | Pepsi Max. Unbelieveable #LiveForNow. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Go9rf9GmYpM

“Printing Press”. Image retrieved from http://typoretum.co.uk/woodentypes/the-printing-press/


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