On the Intersection of AI and Augmented Reality

While recent attention has been planted firmly in the realms of AI, other emerging technologies have been developing quietly in the background. After the faltering introduction of Google Glass some years ago, the idea of an immediate upsurge in augmented reality applications came to a standstill. While considerable experimentation and new technologies continue to be explored, these initial responses from the consumer population have dampened enthusiasm–at least on the part of pundits and journalists. But exploration of augmented reality continues. Now, with the explosion of AI, and particularly deep learning, it is very likely that augmented reality, virtual reality, and Head-up Displays (HUDs) will become increasingly important.

In previous postings on this blog, we have seen the advance of robotics, and the usefulness of machine learning in this area. We have also looked at hybrid human-robotic systems as well as robot interactions in a human environment. We have posited that the development of human enhancement will continue to parallel the development of smarter artificial intelligence in a kind of continuing evolutionary arms race. Humans will not in the archaic science-fiction sense become machines or absorbed in machines; they will simply be more integrated with easier to use and increasingly powerful AI tools that enhance capabilities and enable greater and more flexible operations in the workplace as well as at home.

In the immediate sense, application of AI to enhanced virtual reality means the possibility of providing things such as smart object recognition on a continual basis with a HUD; for example, identity detection for security, as well as for ordinary human interactions. This will increase the range of identifiable people and enrich conversations by providing details on an individual which might otherwise be forgotten or may not have been known it all. The technology for locating information on individuals is of course widespread on the web; pattern recognition for facial images based on deep learning is already available. Deep learning could also be used to recognize scenarios of various types or components. A view of parts in an automobile, for example, could suggest an immediate repair to a technician, with instructions, tests, and approved tolerances available immediately on a prosthetic device.

Simple pattern recognition enhancements would be only the immediate consequences of AI/VR intersection. AI could be used to guide the hand that performs a function through minute electronic stimulation. A detected image could be used to locate where a problem exists, or where control movement might be required; haptic response could provide the minute instructions needed for immediate learning and reinforcement of a specific action. Similarly, as an aid to handicapped individuals of any level, situational awareness could be enhanced by deep learning associated with cloud-based environmental understanding to produce movement guidance; warnings of balance or functional instability; as well as linking these movements to common physiological metrics such as heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature.

Application of AI will also enhance all forms of virtual reality by providing recognition of locations and objects in the real world that need to be mapped to the virtual environment. Again, it will be deep learning, associated with external databases of real-world locations, objects, and devices, that will provide the solution.

The capabilities that can be enhanced will greatly improve understanding. By providing such possibilities as extreme long distance sensing in which the capabilities of object recognition and distant camera visioning can provide an understanding of objects at extreme locations for military, traffic and logistics systems with sensory capabilities for prediction of obstacles, threats, and impacts upon efficiency of operation. Information on any remote, difficult, or otherwise invisible location could also provide new sources of data through enhanced object recognition.

The capabilities provided by the combination of AI and virtual reality make it possible to provide a continuous situational awareness that relieves the need to continuously monitor situations within the environment. This will lead to new freedom of movement and will have inevitable consequences in ability to function in new situations as well as to understand the complex nuances and interactions that exist, and yield opportunities within the everyday environment.


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