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自分が読んで興味深く感じた英文記事を中心に取り上げる予定です

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一言でまとめる切れ味

 
雑誌記事でのタイトルはSay ARとなっていました。音声認識技術の紹介でNow we’re talking.(待ってました)を使ったように今回は会議で決を取るときに使われるAll in favor, say aye.(賛成の方はAyeと言ってください)からAR技術を肯定的に捉えようとしているとみました。Economistは新技術が好きですねえ(笑)

Augmented reality
Why augmented reality will be big in business first
The technology is coming. But it will take time for consumers to embrace AR


THE history of computers is one of increasing intimacy. At first users rented time on mainframe machines they did not own. Next came the “personal computer”. Although PCs were confined to desks, ordinary people could afford to buy them, and filled them with all manner of personal information. These days smartphones go everywhere in their owners’ pockets, serving as everything from a diary to a camera to a voice-activated personal assistant.

The next step, according to many technologists, is to move the computer from the pocket to the body itself. The idea is to build a pair of “smart glasses” that do everything a smartphone can, and more. A technology called “augmented reality” (AR) would paint computerised information directly on top of the wearers’ view of the world. Early versions of the technology already exist (see article). If it can be made to work as its advocates hope, AR could bring about a new and even more intimate way to interact with machines. In effect, it would turn reality itself into a gigantic computer screen.


Economistの文章って精読する価値があるなと思えるのはよく整理された論理的であるからです。今回の書き出しではコンピュータの歴史をTHE history of computers is one of increasing intimacy.とincreasing intimacyと言い切ることから始めています(一語じゃなくて二語じゃないかと突っ込みがあるかもですが(汗))。このintimacyを発展させた先に今回取り上げる“augmented reality” (AR)があるというのです。その真偽は脇に置くなら見事な進め方ですよね。

また、本格的に普及されるためのハードルを2点あげていますが、問題点の挙げ方の書き方も参考にできます。

Designing a nifty piece of technology, though, is not the same as ushering in a revolution. Social factors often govern the path to mass adoption, and for AR, two problems stand out. One is aesthetic. The HoloLens is an impressive machine, but few would mistake it for a fashion item. Its alien appearance makes its wearers look more creepy than cool. One reason the iPhone was so successful was that it was a beautiful piece of design. Its metal finish and high-quality components, allied with a big advertising push from Apple, all helped establish it as a desirable consumer bauble.

The other big problem surrounds consent. The history of one much-hyped set of smart glasses should give the industry pause. In 2013 Google launched its “Glass” headsets to a chosen segment of the public. As well as those who thought the product looked silly, plenty found the glasses sinister, worrying that their users were covertly filming everyone they came into contact with. “Glassholes” became social pariahs. Two years later, Google withdrew Glass from sale.


このハードルもBoth of these problems are solvable. と社説では書いていますが、慎重ながらも将来性に期待している感じですね。Economistの力の入れようを感じ取ることができるのは今週のScience & Technologyのセクションはこのトピック一つだけで3000語近くの記事を載せているのです。普段は4-5つの記事があるので異色さが目立ちます。社説では将来性や問題点の大きな方向性を描くだけですが、こちらの記事はより詳しく最新の動向や細かな問題点を知ることできます。

Reality, only better
The promise of augmented reality
Replacing the real world with a virtual one is a neat trick. Combining the two could be more useful


Words checked = [2971]
Words in Oxford 3000™ = [85%]


初心者にもわかるようにARとVRの違いも説明してくれています。このあたりが雑誌のありがたいところです。

AR is a close cousin to virtual reality (VR). There is, though, a crucial difference between them: the near-opposite meanings they ascribe to the term “reality”. VR aims to drop users into a convincing, but artificial, world. AR, by contrast, supplements the real world by laying useful or entertaining computer-generated data over it. Such an overlay might be a map annotated with directions, or a reminder about a meeting, or even a virtual alien with a ray gun, ripe for blasting. Despite the hype and prominence given recently to VR, people tend to spend more time in real realities than computer-generated ones. AR thus has techies licking their lips in anticipation of a giant new market. Digi-Capital, a firm of merger and acquisitions advisors in California, reckons that of the $108 billion a year which it predicts will be spent by 2021 on VR and AR combined, AR will take three-quarters.

また最新動向も知ることができます。Googleが新しい端末を出していたなんて知りませんでした。



At the end of last year Google and Lenovo, a Chinese hardware manufacturer, unveiled the Phab 2 Pro, the first phone to implement a piece of Google technology called Tango. The idea is that, by giving the phone an extra set of sensors, it can detect the shape of the world around it. Using information from infra-red detectors, a wide-angle lens and a “time-of-flight” camera (which measures how long pulses of light take to reflect off the phone’s surroundings) Tango is able to build up a three-dimensional image of those surroundings. Armed with all this, a Tango-enabled phone can model a house, an office or any other space, and then use that model as a canvas upon which to draw things.

To give an idea of what is possible, Google has written apps that would be impossible on Tango-less phones. “Measure”, for instance, overlays a virtual tape measure on the phone’s screen. Point it at a door, and it will tell you how wide and high that portal is. Point it at a bed, and you get the bed’s dimensions—letting you work out whether it will fit through the door. Another Tango app is the oddly spelled “Woorld”, which lets users fill their living rooms with virtual flowers, houses and rocket ships, all of which will interact appropriately with the scenery. Place the rocket behind a television, for instance, and the set will block your view of it.


社説でデザインやプライバシーの問題があるので一般に普及するには時間がかかると指摘していましたが、まず仕事場でARが普及するのではと見ているようです。この記事ではMicrosoftのHoloLensを紹介していましたがJALでも導入しているんですね。



Such glasses do exist. So far, though, they have made a bigger impact on the workplace than in the home. Companies such as Ubimax, in Germany, or Vuzix, in New York, make AR spectacles that include cameras and sensors, and which use a projector mounted on the frame to place what looks like a small, two-dimensional screen into one corner of the wearer’s vision.

Used in warehouses, for instance, that screen—in combination with technology which tracks workers and parcels—can give an employee instructions on where to go, the fastest route to get there and what to pick up when he arrives, all the while leaving both of his hands free to move boxes around. Ubimax reckons that could bring a 25% improvement in efficiency. At a conference in London in October, Boeing, a big American aeroplane-maker, described how it was using AR glasses to give workers in its factories step-by-step instructions on how to assemble components, as well as to check that the job had been done properly. The result, said Paul Davies of Boeing’s research division, is faster work with fewer mistakes.


テクノロジー好きのYutaはワクワクして読み進めましたが、こういう技術が広まると人間の存在価値が見直され反動が起きやすくなりそうです。。。
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