From Walkmans to AR: Society Embraces Tech that Enhances

From Walkmans to AR: Society Embraces Tech that Enhances

How We've Already Embraced Augmented Reality

Sep 8, 2023·

2 min read

Play this article

As a software engineer, I’m constantly seeking ways to enhance my focus and productivity. And I’m not alone - our tech-savvy society eagerly adopts tools that expand our potential.

Just look at how ubiquitous headphones have become in daily life. Whether it’s coders like myself plugging into hyper-focused “flow states” through music, or athletes pushing their physical limits with energizing playlists, headphones act as performance-enhancing prosthetics for our minds.

The science backs this up. A recent study found subjects performed better on repetitive tasks while listening to music, improving their output and efficiency by 20% (Pool et al., 2021). Other research shows music activates the brain's reward and motivation centers, releasing more dopamine which fuels concentration and blocks distractions (Ferreri et al., 2019).

The Walkman revolution of the 1980s first revealed our craving for personal soundscapes we can take anywhere. No longer tethered to physical locations for our media, space itself was augmented by our curated playlists. With some headphone isolation and the right tunes, I can fool my brain into entering prolonged coding trances where hours zoom by.

Fast forward to today with Spotify playlists algorithmically tailored to my taste and context. Apple AirPods discretely piping crystalline tunes straight into my brain 24/7. As an engineer, this fulfils my cyberpunk fantasy of technology intricately meshed with my being!

But headphones were just phase one. I believe society is more than ready to embrace the next wave of augmented reality through spatial computing. Just as music enhances focus and mood, AR has untapped potential for upgrading our perception and informing our work.

For example, spatial computing could trick my brain into better absorbing complex code. Imagine having a virtual workspace where code hovers in the air as holograms, letting me spot bugs spatially. Or AR glasses overlaying line-by-line explanations onto unfamiliar code. Being able to digitally annotate real-world objects could boost collaboration and creativity.

Of course, we can’t ignore downsides like distraction and over-reliance on technology. But having witnessed the tangible benefits of broadening reality beyond the physical, I think society is hungry for the next phase. We’re ready to guide emerging tech responsibly to uplift human potential.

AR holds revolutionary possibilities for programming and problem-solving. By digitally stimulating under-utilized parts of our visual and spatial cognition, AR can unlock new levels of performance and comprehension. As an engineer, I’m thrilled at the prospect of spatial computing tools that quite literally augment my capacity. The question isn’t if society will embrace AR - as our adoption of music tech shows, we crave new ways to enhance our spaces and abilities. Our future looks increasingly blended, as digital layers enrich the tangible world.