A look at Hyper Reality; the smash hit viral video that predicts the future of augmented reality in society
"Once we let media escape off of the screens it goes everywhere," warns Keiichi Matsuda as he discusses the thinking behind his visually stunning short film 'Hyper Reality', a dark exploration of future city technology, augmented reality and a comment on the direction of travel that society is headed in.
The film-maker and designer, Matsuda, has been working on the film for three years, having crowd sourced the funding for its production in 2013 after a trip to Columbia where he attended a conference. He explains that his intention was to explore "the filter that technology allows" within the real world, while also highlighting the social and architectural possibilities, as well as belief systems in modern society.
He has just witnessed 'Hyper Reality' go viral, featuring the bleak story of a woman who isn't satisfied with her life and interacts with her surroundings using a wearable headset which serves games, marketing and communications to her in an overwhelming fashion. It is a visual feast but also so colourfully vibrant that it could also come with a warning at the start: "May induce headaches."
This is, of course, intentional.
"It is supposed to have a degree of realism. The technology doesn't concern me, what does concern me is the world and the way we are heading." He admits that many of the ideas and technology on show maybe one day possible, and goes so far as to admit that the virtual game featured at the beginning could easily become reality, even having its own virtual "logic" in place.
"It does work and it is possible."
The film also counters commercialism with religion, with a running points system acting as a reward for the central character throughout in order to influence and control her behaviour.
Matusda continues to discuss the other two examples of gamification that appear; the first in the form of a dog avatar that accompanies the viewer while in the supermarket and tells them of points that can be won by purchasing certain items. Ironically, at the end, once the character decides to join Catholicism in an effort to escape her heavily commercialised lifestyle, she also receives bonus points for doing so.
Hyper Reality is a film that is extremely busy with virtual messaging and activity. During the first minute alone the character receives a video call from her 'inspiration guru' - a careers guidance councilor - who is complaining that she is late and that her loyalty points are in jeopardy as a result.
"It is a critique of the world," he later explains when asked what the purpose of his film and what the statement is that he is trying to make about marketing and the potential of how it could be delivered to the viewer through wearable tech.
Exploring "the filter that technology allows" in the real word and exploring the spacial and architectural" possibilities as well as belief systems," was his main aim of Hyper Reality, states Matsuda.
While the central character is walking through the supermarket mid-way through, the audience see her own personal experience of the shop and the interactive messages being delivered to her, including being offered seconds to participate in spur of the moment sales opportunities. Matsuda explains that everyone in the supermarket would be served their own environment to suit them, which is exemplified when someone else's profile is suddenly displayed instead, before the tech is given a reboot.
We also see that while holding a yoghurt, the packaging and messaging changes to instead entice the male personality profile that has hacked into her profile as 'Alpinette Beautiful You' branding suddenly replaced by 'Man Yog' and the cute dog avatar becoming a scantily clad lady with a gun.
Throughout the reboot process, the main character is only concerned that she has lost the gaming points we see her acquire at the beginning.
"I wanted to explore what has become the gamification of life and apply AR to all the different purposes of life," he adds when asked where the concepts for these future predicting ideas emanated from.
Matsuda concludes that while much of the film stems from informed ideas over technological possibilities he does believe certain elements of it could become reality: "I don't think that the future will be exactly like that as this is meant to provoke a reaction."
Having received great acclaim for the film, Matsuda is now searching for more brands to work with and to fund his next efforts. On this project he worked with brands to imagine what they may look like in the future. This is work he plans to continue on his next project should it receive similar backing, he reveals.