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Augmented Reality as an Concrete Technological artefact

We think much about physics, cognition and intelligence; it’s pretty obvious the human mind is not the smartest possible general intelligence any more than humans are the highest jumpers are the fastest runners. We’re not going to be the smartest thinkers if we are not going to work toward human, machine and world interaction.

Experiencing the world

To make sense of the mediated experience of the Augmented Reality world, I will demonstrate the physical world, which we experience directly, is a mere representation of the world provided by our body or lived body, Body and world are inextricably intertwined, the world provides background and context for action and perception. It is this composite of body and world that provides the subject with means for potential actions. The body is like every other tool, not neutral. It mediates our relation with the world. Its capabilities for action and perception as well as its spatial extension shape our experience of our reality.

This structure of being in the reality is called intentionality. Basically it is just another word for the primordial relations between human subject and world. It is the fundamental structure of our being in the world, the function of human existence itself. World and human subject are forever intertwined. There is no consciousness without content.

Technological Intentionality

Before forming the relation with the realm of the Augmented Reality, I want to address how the use of technology co-shapes our relation with the world. To engage with the world through technological artefacts makes us subject to the latent amplification/reduction structure of instruments. That is, if, e.g., you are using a dentist's probe you get a better sense of the structure of the tooth than with your fingers. You feel the hardness and softness of the tooth, the cracks and holes far better than you would use your fleshy fingers. The probe extents or amplifies your tactile intentionality but you won't sense the wetness or warmth of the tooth that you would experience with your finger. The use of the instrument reduces and amplifies your tactile intentionality at the same time. The difference between body and technological artefact is that all instruments have differently shaped 'intentionality’s' which expose precisely those aspects of the world which have either been overlooked, taken as unimportant, not known at all, or even totally unsuspected. The technological intentionality, we could state, is narrower than the general intentionality of the body.

I-> (technology ->world)

I would like to consider, that the intentionality involved in embodied relations, like using a probe, is not completely human either. The specific ways of experiencing the Augmented Reality world through the probe can only exist because of an intimate relation between human and technology. The major difference is that while all instrumental use co-shapes our experience of the world, the instrumentally constructed reality, that is exclusively accessible only through instruments. Therefore, to experience that reality, the use of instruments is indispensable. Like the body is the only means to access the world, to experience the Augmented Reality world is to become involved with technology. It is impossible to untangle human intentionality and technological intentionality from the Augmented Reality experience because the Augmented Reality world is only accessible via technological artefacts. The experience of the Augmented Reality world means to act and to perceive the objects of the Augmented Reality world.

Looking at the relation in a post phenomenological way, we find an embodiment relation similar to regular tool use, schematized by Don Ihde in this way

Embodiment relation == (I - technology) - >world

While this would be a valid way to describe regular instrumental relations, in the case of the Augmented Reality object we have to take into account the otherness of the instrument. The interaction with a technological other, the alterity relation, is schematized like this

I– (technology – world)

The composite relation is still relevant, because it is only through technological means that we gain access to the Augmented Reality world. Therefore,

I = (technology=world)

If we now try to schematize the relation between human, Augmented Reality object and Augmented Reality world, we might come up with something like this:


To be able to act and perceive within the Augmented Reality world, to be relocated into it, the human needs to merge to a certain degree with the technological artefact.

I consider this relation is an extreme form of embodiment relation where no distinction is possible between human and Augmented Reality object in the process of interaction. We still have to deal with the relation between the instrumentally extended or even relocated human and the Augmented Reality as technological other. In my opinion it is not at all contradictory to combine the extremely close embodiment relation between human and Augmented Reality object with an alterity relation. While Ihde is focussing on the animal subject as another, I consider the relation with the horse also an embodiment relation. The rider uses aids to give clues to the horse and ideally the horse responds so swiftly, that we could speak of a technological extended rider subject. Still, the horse is an animated being or object, a quasi-subject. The main difference between horse and the Augmented Reality object is that we cannot “dismount" from the Augmented Reality object if we still want to experience the Augmented Reality world that is mediated by it.


I have argued that Augmented Reality Object is as instrument can be conceived as alterity in its own right. Applying post phenomenological theories to the relation between human and Augmented Reality object. I have tried to show how the structure of being in the Augmented Reality world is shaped through technological mediation and how deeply embodiment and alterity relations are intertwined in the process of making sense of a world.


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