New Gound #1: Launch week madness

This is the first story in New Gound, or Everyday Tales of a Not So Distant Future Where We all Wear Mixed Reality Lenses.

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The store assistant slumped into a chair behind the counter, exhausted.

The store was always busy. But the past week had been extraordinarily so; Augmate had just launched its newest lenses, and everyone was flocking to their local Augmate centers to check the lenses out.

Sure, they were cool. But were they $4,000 cool? The assistant didn’t think so. It seemed like most people kept them off throughout the day, only really launching apps and experiences when alone at the office or at home. Having the new lenses was more of a bragging point, an indicator of early adopter status.

The gen 5 lenses were still good. Their fidelity wasn’t as great, and the lenses were a little low powered, getting jittery after a full day’s use. But if you didn’t use it all the time, you’d have nothing to complain about. You could still bring up digital experiences easily that were layered on the physical environment. Plus they now cost way less, shunted to the back corner of the Augmate centers in the discount area.

By now, the assistant had every word of the new lens demos memorized by heart. First he told them about how it combined the latest in hydration technology, the result of a partnership with long-time lens makers Acuvue. Then he calibrated their personal profiles, reassuring them that these profiles would be immediately wiped when they removed the lenses (they actually weren’t). Then he ran them through a series of experiences: a gaming one, an educational one, a social one, a wayfinding one, and finally a work one. He could predict exactly what each new person would do during these demos: they all did the same thing. They all hated the educational one (who wanted to see a 5 minute augmented experience about the history of Augmate?). They all gasped in delight at exactly the same moment in the social one, the moment when a holograph of a close friend popped up next to them and waved.

The store assistant fingered the headset he was wearing. These were cool: they let him momentarily see the world that customers were seeing through their demo lenses. Augmate had said that this was such new technology that they had to rely on the older headsets. But he suspected that this could really all be done through his own lenses: the true reason staff were made to wear the headsets was optics. It was to reassure visiting customers that the staff weren’t secretly tapping into their experiences throughout the time they spent in the store.

“No loitering behind the counter!” A stern voice barked from behind him. The assistant rolled his eyes at his manager, and shuffled back to his assigned table in the store, where an eager young teen awaited, ready for the demo.

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