Written by Director of Emerging Technology Dan Phillips
Reality is subjective. Not everyone or everything experiences the world in the same way. Sometimes differences are subtle, sometimes markedly extreme. Whether it’s how you react to an election result, hear a tone in a song, or taste a delicious dish, see a rainbow, observable reality and consistency of perception is often not as objective as we think it is.
Emerging technologies such as augmented and mixed reality will over time further expand and blur this line of perception. With AR on mobile devices and head-mounted displays, we’re well within the beginnings of what it means to live an augmented life. Humans are doing a lot of fun things right now, like bringing gaming into our physical world and making our faces into playthings of fun with endless filters and enhancements and props. We’re also starting to find utility for AR in enterprise and education and in customer experience, and with the emergence of hardware designed for specific applications in business.
But AR is not just about the future of vision changing. AR can be the technological prism through which we see the world, but for humans it will also become the common device for the combined knowledge of the species. We will expand our tech parameters beyond display technology to deeper integration with machine learning and artificial intelligences and instantly searchable databases. We will tap into the power of 5G connectivity and beyond to create new merged physical environments. We will be able to intuitively read the reactions of people we encounter based on the dilation of each other’s pupils and the pulses under our skin. Opinions and choices will be made through instantly accessible shared data. Want to make a key purchase, for example? Analyze the salesperson’s biometric response to your questions, and scan satellite imagery to see how much bargaining power you have based on how long the product has remained on the shelf.
Magic Leap, Microsoft’s Hololens and much anticipated but never confirmed moves into the wearable space by Apple give us mainstream hardware for AR. We also have next generation AR-enabled spectacles and contact lenses on the near horizon, or perhaps we will just jump straight to implants and nerve-driven control systems. If that sounds ridiculous and farfetched to you consider how the inventors of past innovations in spectacles could not have anticipated our use of laser corrected vision or human-computer interfaces used in experimental therapy today. If we think the oblong devices we carry in our pockets are the end of screen interface technology then we have learned nothing about the power and pace of technology to change and be adopted. Technologists have the free reign to debate the ethics of data driven modification where politicians and bioethicists do not. The question is not if these technologies will change our experience of reality, but how quickly.
Many animals already sense things we can’t and on spectrums not available to humans. Think of that when you put on an AR headset and find yourself motioning to the invisible. Your own visual experience can be completely unseen by the people around you, whilst remaining entirely real to you. What you see and your understanding of it will soon be different from the person next to you, and we will no longer have a common experience of our shared environment. When AR arrives in its fuller and more integrated state, the challenge for our technologically tiered society will be how we stay in sync with one another.
It can be argued that Western society has progressed quicker in the last decade than in the last 50 years combined. With the rise of technology and the ever-changing way in which information is created, distributed, and consumed, it is easier than ever before to spread a given message or idea across the globe. In the wake of this fast-paced societal transformation, there lies a community that was seemingly inconceivable for generations gone by: a network of online personalities, social media moguls, and internet gurus. More commonly, we now understand these individuals as being social media influencers: social media users who have established credibility within a specific industry and who have access to a large audience, allowing them to persuade their followers by virtue of their authenticity and reach. While it may appear to be a glamorous profession, in reality, social media influencers undergo immense amounts of pressure and public scrutiny for the views they put forth before others. For the most part, however, they attract large followings of supporters who value their efforts and find inspiration in their content. For one social media influencer in particular, Ryan Hughes, it is a dream job and one that he cherishes dearly. It is his pride and joy and the British-native works tirelessly to ensure that it is everything his followers desire and more.
“Being an influencer, especially on YouTube, is a 24/7 job. There isn’t a time of day where it is not on your mind. You’re constantly juggling your next idea, your future ideas, your current online performance, any increase or decrease in growth, any upcoming deadlines, any contracts, or sponsorships, etc. It takes a great toll on you mentally,” said Hughes.
Hughes began his YouTube career in 2012 when he created a channel under the alias, “BuckFizz,” a name which he later shortened to “Bucks.” It wasn’t until he began attracting thousands upon thousands of followers that he decided to leave his role at a large, global digital marketing agency to pursue a full-time occupation as a professional social media influencer. Today, his YouTube channel hosts to over 400,000 subscribers and all of his videos combined have earned a remarkable 62,839,195 views and counting. In addition, Hughes Instagram and Twitter accounts have earned upward of 90,000 and 72,000 followers respectively. As he continues to create and publish his content, those numbers are only sure to rise. His reach is wide and his motivation to expand his presence in the online entertainment industry is stronger than ever before.
At the beginning of his YouTube career, Hughes set out to create a channel that would act as a source of entertainment and laughter within the online gaming community. He recorded himself playing popular online games, full of tips and tricks as well as elements of his own quirky personality. Today, he has expanded his content to include not only gaming material, but also personal vlogs, product promotions, and much more. For instance, earlier this year, Hughes was selected as a candidate to promote and endorse a Cineplex and WorldGaming tournament in Canada which has earned nearly 100,000 views in total and can be found online here. In another of his brand collaborations, Hughes was approached by the app, Skinsilo, to promote their inflammable mobile phone case. In situations like this, companies will reach out to social media influencers in order to use their creative space and their strong followings to promote their products. These influencers are often given full creative reign to create a video using and reviewing the chosen product. In his collaboration with Skinsilo, Hughes entertainingly set fire to a phone, which you can watch here.
Hughes is well known for his unusual, captivating antics and his followers continue to tune into his videos time and time again knowing that they will get to see whatever exciting new idea he has conjured up. Another of his more notable characteristics, however, which makes him an even larger source of inspiration for his subscribers, is the fact that he is consistently looking for ways to not only connect with his followers, but to reach out to them and to give back to the community in whichever way he can. He recognizes that social media platforms provide influencers like himself a unique opportunity to raise money and awareness about prominent social issues and he is proud to work in an industry that makes a great effort to support individuals and communities in our society that experience hardship in their daily lives.
“Charity is a very important thing in my life. As a child, I always vowed that I would support charities at all costs, no matter what sort of salary I’m making. There are so many people in this world that experience unfair situations and I think it is imperative that as humans, we join together and help,” Hughes noted.
On May 22, 2017, a homemade bomb was detonated at the end of an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena in Manchester, United Kingdom. In the wake of this devastating attack, twenty-three people were killed and over 500 others were injured. When Hughes learned of this news, he was extremely affected and determined to find a way to lend his support to the victims and loved ones of this horrific event. In June, he learned of a crowdfunding page hosted by the website, www.justgiving.com, and decided that he would find a unique way to raise money to donate to the cause.
“Working on this involved playing on the sponsored website, CSGORoll.com, which essentially offers Vegas-style games to bet on using onsite credit which can be exchanged and withdrawn in the form of in-game cosmetics for CS:GO. To raise money, I filmed myself playing on the website to earn as much money as possible to donate to the charity. In the end, myself and the website put forward a total of over $1700.00. In addition, the amount that my audience donated in total is unknown due to the fact that they were contributing to a large-scale crowdfunding page; however, it is thought to have added a substantial amount to their total. You can watch the video here,” indicated Hughes.
Hughes’ manager and agent, Ryan Fenwick, took great pride in knowing that he is representing such a courageous, giving individual and supported Hughes every step of the way for this initiative. He was astounded by Hughes’ drive to carry this project out carefully and considerately. He wanted to raise as much money as possible, whilst still appealing to his audiences and making sure that the entertainment and fun they know and love about him was not compromised at any given point.
“Ryan and I worked very closely to come up with a highly effective way to make a positive impact. Not only did Ryan show great support and love, he went above and beyond to complete the video in a timely manner. I’ve never seen someone miss so much sleep over a charity video before, but I could really tell that Ryan cared and his fans did the same. He has one of the most sickening work ethics I’ve ever seen and he is truly dedicated to creating as much valuable content as possible. He’s by far the greatest social influencer I get to work with on a daily basis.
For Hughes, being able to use his YouTube channel to generate awareness about this tragic event, but also a financial contribution to its victims, was indescribable. He felt that being able to bring such a powerful meaning to this particular video gave it a very intense feel and he made a strong effort to raise as much money as he possibly could in order to donate. Being able to combine his creative and philanthropic interests was unlike anything he had ever done before on his channel and it inspired him to continue to do so for as long as his YouTube and social media influencing career will permit.
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