Digital is becoming photo realistic plus the creation of new job profiles and leisure time activities

Five glimpses into our digital near future, curated by Monique van Dusseldorp and David Mattin.

Every week we take a closer look at the new normal, about changing behaviours that are forming in these strange times around the globe, and which of them might last.

This week we were amazed by the level of realism and detail that we are starting to experience in digital as showcased in the game engine Unreal, with the virtual influencer Miquela or with this high-resolution Rembrandt blurring the lines between analog and digital even further. Also we took a closer look at new jobs and experiences evolving in the mobility space and which are getting a boost in times of the pandemic.


With its new real-time 3D creation tool Unreal Engine (ready to arrive in 2021) Epic Games is showcasing an unprecedented level of photorealism game engines are able to achieve now. With this level of detail, games will become even more immersive and these games will raise the bar for other virtual experiences outside the gaming environment.


This is also true for social media. Influencer Miquela has 2.3 million followers on Instagram, but she is not a real person; she is a digital character. Miquela already starred in an ad campaign for Calvin Klein. Now, she has been signed by the model agency CAA. Okay, it’s all a bit of a publicity stunt, but a perfect example of the way the boundaries between real and digital are dissolving.


And just to prove that high art and culture can be part of this mix, check out this extreme high-resolution Rembrandt painting. The so-called hyper-resolution image was launched as the Rijksmuseum in the Netherlands announced a delay to the completion of the painting’s restoration due to the current lockdown.
The 44.8 gigapixel image of the painting, made from 528 different still photographs, allows viewers to zoom in and examine every part of the huge canvas. Here digital is not just trying to emulate your own eye, it is actually offering something more.


New forms of art creation and presentation will allow new job profiles to emerge. The same is true for other branches. You might have seen the little robots strolling our streets already. Last year the on-demand delivery service Postmates partnered with a company called Phantom Auto, which creates platforms that allow people to drive cars and robots remotely. Now, Postmates has seen a massive uptick in demand for the two cities they serve: San Francisco and LA. They’re hiring new teleoperators of the robots – so we wonder, is this a new job for the future: remote robot driver? And as Phantom Auto allows a person to drive a car remotely as well, will Uber drivers be soon replaced with at-home teleworkers?


The app Randonautica is having a moment during the pandemic. Randonauting is a movement dedicated to the exploration of the physical world, and new perspectives that can result from that. So Randonautica generates a set of random coordinates within a set radius of your home, and you have to walk to those coordinates. It’s a way of forcing yourself to go to a new place, and get a new perspective on the physical space around you. Now it’s becoming big on TikTok, there’s a very busy Reddit group, and these people are using it to get outdoors during the pandemic. But they’re also high on the idea that Randonauting is a route to self-discovery, and in the Reddit group people share the weird coincidences they find. One person asked for ‘guidance’ and ended up at a mirror that said ‘IT IS YOUR TIME’.