Augmented Reality Blows My Mind—Twice

Numerous studies have shown that Wondergressive readers are funnier, more attractive, likeable and intelligent than the average human being (links pending, but the science looks solid to me). This being the case, I’m sure many of you were already aware of futuristic-sounding, mind-blowing technology known as augmented reality. It even sounds very sci-fi. I’ve chanced upon this amazing bit of science twice (that I’m aware of) so far, and both times I’ve been left with my mouth hanging open.

The first time I ran into it was at Printing Arts, a print shop in Broadview, IL. They were printing baseball cards (which are apparently “in” again) as well as some other sports-related collateral when one of the guys showed me a card that was about an eighth of an inch thick. It had a cutout on the front through which you could feel the fabric of some player’s jersey. I think it was some football player’s, but honestly, I’m not a sports girl so I don’t remember exactly what game it was. Anyway, he told me to take out my phone, pull up the camera and wait for it to focus on the card from directly above it. Not sure what to expect, I played along. Holy shit—a video started to play on my camera screen! I was floored. Still am, actually.

Basically, the camera picks up on some code which wasn’t visible on the face of the card, accesses the corresponding video from the interwebs and streams it right onto your phone. This all happens in the space of seconds, not minutes, and is virtually transparent to the user.

The second instance was very recent. A work acquaintance showed me an app he had on his iPhone called SkyView by Terminal Eleven. Being something of an astronomy nut and long-time stargazer, I was again amazed by how far technology had come while I wasn’t looking.

StarView is an augmented reality app that shows you a view of the sky right on your iPhone. As you move your mobile device through the air, it seamless reveals the heavens in your little window. Stars, constellations, planets and even satellites all show up. You can further see the trajectory of celestial objects for a 24-hour period and even change the date to see the results of the past or the future.

While both those examples are great and awe-inspiring for sure, there are actually many practical uses for augmented reality, especially in our increasingly mobile lives. Educational apps like Science AR and Anatomy 4D turn posters and other printed materials into interactive pieces. Virtual History ROMA boasts about its “full-immersion panoramic experience.”

WorkSnug allows you to see where free WiFi is located and even has a decibel meter to gauge noise level so that you can work comfortably wherever you’re at. Speaking of cities, Acrossair tells Londoners where their nearest tube station is via their iPhone’s video function.

User “Mos D.” says of Yelp’s Monocle app:

I love monocle (sic). Stand on the street, point it around you 360 degrees, and it shows you nearby places. Imagine you are the Terminator and that’s how it works.

Is that what all this is coming to? We’ll all have Terminators in our pockets and will navigate the world through miniature screens? If it means not having to ask questionable, seedy-looking strangers where the subway is, I’m on board.

Printing Arts
Terminal Eleven Twitter
Science AR app
Anatomy 4D app
Virtual History ROMA app
Mos D. Yelp Monocle comment

Bionic Hand That Can Feel



In 2006 the first bionic arm, a robotic arm controlled by the amputee’s brain, was successfully connected to a woman,  giving her a limb she could once again engage the world with. The only disadvantage of the arm was that she was still unable to feel, unable to tell that there was an arm that her mind was moving in the first place.  Now, the world of robotics is changing once again.

Later this year, the first bionic hand that can feel and transmit that sense of touch to the amputee will be connected to a young man’s arm in Rome. This is an absolute breakthrough in science, signaling that the singularity is closer than we’d imagined.

The hand will be attached directly to the nervous system, making the bionic hand a true extension of the man’s body and subsequently fostering an additional troop into the global cyborg army. No kidding, there is even a foundation dedicated to turning people into cyborgs, and promotion cybernetic rights.

The new bionic hand will

allow the man to control the hand by his thoughts, as well as receiving sensory signals to his brain from the hand’s sensors. It will effectively provide a fast, bidirectional flow of information between the man’s nervous system and the prosthetic hand.

Earlier models of the bionic hand provided very limited sensation, whereas the new model provides a range of sensations to allow the amputee to recognize differences in touch.

The idea would be that it could deliver two or more sensations. You could have a pinch and receive information from three fingers, or feel movement in the hand and wrist. We have refined the interface [connecting the hand to the patient], so we hope to see much more detailed movement and control of the hand.

This is obviously only the beginning, so there is no telling what further advancements into bionics and cybernetics will bring.

No more days of hook hands and dead weight.  This hand will likely one day be just as functional as a real limb with the added benefit of knowing the difference between a lover’s caress and the crushing force of a Buick parked on top of it. It might even eventually have the capability for heat seeking missiles that can be installed into the fingertips that reward the amputee with pleasure when they launch.  Sounds far-fetched, but as usual, you know the military will get this first.

Will this technology, paired with an artificial nervous system, eventually be implemented into robotics, enabling our future overlords to feel the world just like us? It’s a slippery slope, that’s for sure.

For more information regarding how technology has altered and/or improved biology follow the links below.





Washington Post: First Bionic Arm

The Independent: First Bionic Hand

Wondergressive: The Singularity is Night Upon Us


Cyborg Foundation


Additional Resources:

Wondergressive: First True Cybernetic Tissue Created

Wondergressive: Robotic Legs Controlled by Your Brain

Wondergressive: Electronic Brain Implant Increases Intelligence 

Wondergressive: Implantable Telescope Restores Vision

Wondergressive: Kid Allergic to Everything Goes to School as a Robot

3D? Lets go One More! 4D!

3D printing has of late become the hottest discussed news. With this new age printing method we can create guns, replicate handy tools, and even create stem cells to print organs. With 3D printing becoming more accessible and developed further, we of course now have to turn to the world of 4D, a world where things make themselves, without outside intervention!

The world of 4D printing is a world that is yet to be fully realized though research into it has already begun. Exciting new developments in this field will lead to more efficient explorations of the next frontier! Hints of a better lifestyle also  come promised as more is learned about this new self assembly system. This passive self assembly system could be the next step to developing AI and creating a new, always adapting system of thought.

Skylar Tibbits, from MIT’s Self-Assembly Lab says:

Imagine robotics-like behavior without the reliance on complex electro-mechanical devices!

Although it is still being developed, even in early stages, the potential for 4D “printing” is outstanding and very real. Shake a passive cube system and you get a desired structure! As Skylar mentions in the Ted talk:

Bridges, buildings, and structures can self assemble through previously programmed data.

A machine that creates itself based on data could be advantageous in war-like scenarios where a bridge for transports is needed. Set a self assembling robot to work if a base camp needs to be set up quickly while manpower is used more efficiently on scouting and gathering intelligence. It could even lead to the development of this guy…

He could be a bad-ass soldier and all, but why is this important to you and I? With all this advancement hopefully we will get to the point where our conveniences become that much greater with the use of these 4D inventions, that is, as long as our reliance on robotics doesn’t also increase exponentially in the process. As convenient as our lives can become through technology, I remain a firm believer and enthusiast of personal connections and interactions! Less is sometimes more… but until then…

The Singularity is Nigh Upon Us.


Sources for research:

Ted Talk by Skylar Tibbits

3D printing by Wondergressive

ABC 7: Guns and 3D Printing

CNET: Printing Organs

4D Printing

SJET: Self Assembly System

Wondergressive: The Singularity is Nigh Upon Us