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For the third edition of Digital Deep Dives we took a dive into the world of AR, AI and robotics by listening to a talk by Cees Dingler on Augmented and Virtual Reality, followed by a tour through the Robot Love expo. An impressive evening that left us all in awe and a little bit freaked out. Here are some of the highlights.
Capitola Digital is a group of creatives and coders from Amsterdam who use open technology sources from all over to world to turn them into out of the box, marketable concepts. Or opportunities, as Cees would like to call them. “The technology that we have access to nowadays can be used to support people, to encourage them,” says Cees.
“We’ve seen cases in which matters too complicated for words are better explained by AR. There are people living at the other end of the world able to explore the campus TU/e by means of a virtual visit. And we literally moved people around at a party by developing a mingling game on a big screen. The possibilities are endless.”
Although very impressed by the attractive apps and tools, Cees’ examples do raise some questions. Isn’t this getting a bit freaky? Isn’t the digital world slowly taking over?
Cees partly agrees. “With AR and AI, we are literally placing a layer over the real world as we know it. We have the ability to modify and manipulate digital data such as images and videos, and in some cases really hard to distinguish reality from fake. However, I think we still have a good sense of what is real and what not, but we should be critical about it nevertheless.”
One last question: aren’t we looking at our screens too much lately? Doesn’t AR & AI only encourage that? “The thing with our apps is that they work side by side with the real world. They do not take over any real experience, on the contrary, they encourage people to open their eyes and see beyond.
For example, we’ve developed an app that includes some sort of city sightseeing quest. People take one look at their phone for instruction, and then search the whole city for clues and hidden gems, discovering parts of the city that they normally would have missed.”
As a second part of the Digital Deep Dive, we were guided around the old factory building to get a good look at all the crazy sculptures and robots that already raised many questions. Like: who is that girl crying there in the corner?
A bizarrely realistic robot created by the Raeven sisters, who created a third twin sister. They asked themselves: what if you could re-create a loved one? Would we overcome our fear to lose each other? This and many of their other pieces also focus on the adjustability of humans, and the expectation to be perfect.
As Cees already told us during his talk, we can adjust anything nowadays and still make it look real. That’s what Margiet van Breevoort’s sculpture implies as well; a surreal figure sitting in an everyday waiting position. People may ask themselves it this might be a glimpse of the future. Who knows what creatures will be walking and sitting around with technology like this?
Honestly, an old tiled factory does not do this piece of art any good, making it look like something straight out of the slaughterhouse. Not everyone was very reluctant when asked to touch it, but it turned out to be a very pleasant fabric. Bart Hess, the creator of this work, creates materials that resemble a strong connection with the human body. Robot Love placed these materials in their exhibition to break the expectation: why do we always think of cold, smooth, steel creatures when it comes to robots?