Augmented Reality or Beautified Reality?

Augmented reality (AR) is an interactive experience of a real-world environment where the objects that reside in the real world are enhanced by computer-generated perceptual information, sometimes across multiple sensory modalities, including visual, auditory, haptic, somatosensory and olfactory (Wikipedia).

AR has not to be confused with Virtual reality (VR) that is a simulated experience which can be similar to or completely different from the real world. VR can be used for entertainment (e.g. video games), education (e.g. medical or military training) and business (e.g. virtual meetings).

The most widespread use of augmented reality isn’t in games: it’s the facial filters on social media. The result? The appearance of people, the appearance we have heavily influences our character, our interactions, and our identity. Today, however, more and more young people and especially teenage girls, are using filters that “beautify” their appearance and promise to offer different look. Facial filters that have become common on social media are, perhaps, the most widespread use of augmented reality.

The rise of internationalized MySpace and Facebook selfies in the early 2000a and the launch of Snapchat in 2011 marked the beginning of the interation we see today. The apps, like also Tik Tok or Instagram, offered quick messages through images and the selfie was an ideal way to visually comunicate one’s reactions, feelings and moods. In 2013, Oxford Dictionaries selected “selfie” as the word of the year.

Mark Zuckerberg recently told the information that he believes AR and VR will be the next big mainstream platform. That’s why they are investing so much in the industry.

Now there are three cartoon lenses getting all the attention on Snapchat. One is called Cartoon Face wich released in August 2020. It was followed by Cartoon, a more advanced lens that transforms the entire face into a Disney-style character. The third lens, Cartoon3D Style, released in june 2021. It has more of Pixar-like cartoon appearance and lets you toggle between what appears to be two genders – one with prominent ears.

Researchers don’t yet understand the impact that sustained use of AR may have, but they do there are real risks and with facial filters young girls are the ones taking that risk.

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