Film critics are still cooing about the immersive virtual world director James Cameron created for his film “Avatar.” Cameron developed technology that made it possible to blend real and virtual elements within a single shot in a way that felt much more seamless and natural than anything that came before it. The experience has even made a few people depressed that they can’t lose themselves in the imagined world of Pandora. Daniel Terdiman argues that this kind of virtual experience may be the future of social networking.
Giant, blue-skinned mind puppets are probably still a long way off — but Terdiman and other experts think that by combining social networking with geotagging, augmented reality and a host of other immersive technologies, the real world and virtual world may start to meld in a way that’s decidedly Cameron-esque.
Experts say existing social networks are the biggest roadblock to a Pandora-like virtual world, since networks such as Facebook are deeply entrenched and satisfy our need to connect in a very similar way. I’m not so sure — I think developing a user-friendly way to interface with a digital landscape is still the biggest impediment to a virtual existence. Nobody I know is going to be willing to walk around looking through their camera phone all day or wear some kind of enormous virtual reality helmet. Bring me some networked contact lenses and we’ll talk.
Do you wish social networks were more immersive? What new opportunities will a merged virtual-physical space offer? What’s holding the technology back?
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