Futureland 2018 – The merging of physical and virtual world

The 15th and the 16th of November, I had the opportunity to take part to Futureland 2018 as a volunteer. Futureland is an international event organized by Talent Garden that aims to empower the business community to advance and succeed through digital transformation and the practical applications of emerging technologies: blockchain, immersive technologies (Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality) and Artificial Intelligence.

What capture me the most was the immersive technologies world. The VR and AR experiences tickled my mind. The two day immersion among major experts of this field were inspiring: inspiring speeches, inspiring people, inspiring ideas. I came out of these two days enriched and motivated, with my curiosity fed. The field of immersive technologies is constantly growing: I wore different kinds of smart glasses, VR viewer and wearable devices used in industries or in healthcare for simulations, smart assistance, training, communication and sales.

What impressed me the most was the VR escape room experience. It is a two-player game, but you cannot use your voice to communicate, so you can only rely on sight and sound. We wore a VR viewer and a pair of headphones and we grabbed two tools (our “virtual hands”). We were in the middle of the event, crowed and noisy, but when the game began, it was just like being in another dimension. Nothing else existed anymore, only the virtual image of my teammate. Team working can become really difficult when you are obliged to use unfamiliar communication methods. We had lots of fun! After the first moment of disorientation, we learnt how to move in that world. We where on a platform, suspended between clouds, with holograms and fluctuating objects appearing and disappearing around us. After a while, I realized I was avoiding to step over the platform, I was unconsciously afraid to fall down. I laughed surprising myself in these thoughts. Some questions came into my mind: what will be the role of this kind of technologies in our daily lives? What about the outlooks and the implications to humans? What will change in our society?

Technology is silently and slowly (maybe not so slowly?) entering into our daily lives. Sometimes, great innovations happen and we don’t even notice it. We simply get used to it. Nevertheless, tech is having a huge impact. Just think about smartphones: some years ago, would you have imagined such a great innovation? We don’t live without our smartphones anymore. We use them for everything: friends, work, free time, shopping, etc. Therefore, how will immersive technologies insinuate into our habits? Just think about going for a walk with a pair of smart glasses that erase the boundary between the physical and the digital or simulated world. It reminds me some crazy games we made when we where children. It will completely change communication… and human relationships.

This kind of thoughts might be a little scary, are we going towards the unknown? Would you accept it like a real environment? Will the boundary between dream and realty became thinner and thinner?

Just let things happen and be curious...

Elisa Roldo, Young Voices Board