Netflix’s Altered Carbon Showcases Augmented Reality Future

A world after Smart Glasses

Augmented Reality (AR) is expected to make major gains over the next decade. Using Smart Glasses, AR could give users access to all the benefits of their smartphones, laptops and desktops while remaining hands-free.

But what if you didn’t need to look through high-tech lenses or screens to experience the benefits of an augmented world? What if AR was everywhere?

READ: Could Smart Glasses make you a fashion expert?

This is the near future explored by Netflix’s whip-smart sci-fi Altered Carbon. Taking cues from classics like Blade Runner, the series adaptation of Richard Morgan’s novels shows us how much easier AR could make everyone’s lives.

Setting aside the show’s dystopian themes, Altered Carbon paints a colorful picture of an augmented world. Using their hands and voice, characters review 3D holograms, including building layouts, and online libraries all on adjustable screens that play videos.

While Altered Carbon is set hundreds of years in the future, we’re not that far off from the AR tech on display.
Credit: VentureBeat

Augmented Reality isn’t just CGI, it exists today...

The ability to use 3D objects suspended in mid-air isn’t that far-fetched. Many AR features enjoyed by the show’s characters are already available on Vuzix Smart Glasses today.

Take video calls on Zoom or Skype, for example. Users can video chat using an unobstructed screen within the smart glass lenses while remaining entirely hands-free and unconfined to a single spot.

The path towards an Altered Carbon-type augmented reality is here. How the show explores AR:

  1. See what I see: In one scene, a character broadcasts their point-of-view to an off-site guide in real time. This otherworldly function is already available in the Vuzix M-series product line today. Our partners and clients use Vuzix Smart Glasses for anything from training doctors to guiding technicians in the field. This tech is no longer fictional.
  2. I’m lost: Characters can review 3D models like maps by voicing commands. Whether you’re going for a run or finding your next favorite restaurant, Vuzix Smart Glasses already offer this service.
  3. Online library: Whether its a wealthy antagonist scrolling through a list of new bodies or the protagonist accessing info, interactive data is everywhere in Altered Carbon. Currently, Vuzix Smart Glasses allow users to manage their music and movies hands-free. Meanwhile, warehouse workers can access entire inventories without taking their eyes off the task at hand.
  4. Surgery assist: At one point, a doctor uses a pair of Smart Glasses to operate on a patient. The glasses offered capabilities beyond what was available to the world’s general population. This is already happening in our world, as the first knee surgery guided by Vuzix Smart Glasses took place in summer 2020.

Altered Carbon shows us a near future in which augmented reality is everywhere.
Image credit: WOWSOME

A future where AR is everywhere

The denizens of Bay City in 2384 use Online Network Interfaces (ONI) that are inserted directly into their bodies. These devices allow them to access the augmented world using their voice, wristband, tablet or watch.

Today, Smart Glasses give us many of the tools enjoyed in the show. While the level of technology in Altered Carbon is set hundreds of years in the future, Smart Glasses could become mainstream gadgets much sooner than the show’s creators envision.

Companies, practitioners, and remote workers can save substantial time, money and resources with Smart Glasses technology. For starters, medical specialists would no longer need to be flown across the world to perform surgeries saving time and money. Smart Glasses are a more cost-effective alternative. They allow hands-free work and stream first-person points-of-view for guidance from a remote location. A surgeon in Paris could walk a physician in Beijing through an entire surgery.

Augmented reality has endless daily use cases. Smart Glasses could push AR technology to new heights - faster than the showrunners imagined.

Check out other ways Smart Glasses could change the world:

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