Lumen Wants to Bring You Augmented Reality Without the Headset

Here's to a future we can see with our own eyes

June 26, 2018 9:00 am

At the risk of sounding like a prehistoric Luddite, yesterday’s news of the Oculus TV release took more than a minute to wrap our heads around. It’s basically a headset TV you wear in your house that simulates the experience of being in a house, watching TV.

And we weren’t the only ones more than a little confused about a move that makes a famously antisocial and insular technology … even more insular and antisocial.

So how do we make virtual reality less isolating? Trying his hand at addressing this issue is designer Arvind Sanjeev, whose new AR/VR concept, Lumen, looks like the flashlight you keep under the sink for when the power goes out.

But don’t call it a flashlight. The device is a “Mixed Reality storytelling platform that lets people immerse in alternate realities in their natural space through machine learning and projection mapping technologies.” It takes the reality-bending tech provided by smart glasses and headsets out of two dimensions and maps it onto the world we already know how to interact with — because core to his worldview is that the best tech adapts to how humans are, rather than demanding they change their own world to adapt to said tech. Sounds even more radical than a completely new world you wear on your face, in a way.

How can it be used, in theory? Aim it at an object (say, a stereo) to project responsive controls. Or at your broken-down car to educate yourself on how to fix it. With the latest prototype (Lumen’s third), Sanjeev has recognized the limitations of a handheld device made to be used while moving, and that’s something he hopes to solve with future iterations of the design.

Eventually, he’d like to move Lumen into mass production, thereby changing the way we apply AR to education and entertainment.

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