The world around us is changing – may it be the mirrorworld or real world.

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

Will we soon live in the Mirrorworld?

This week the big thing on David’s mind has been augmented reality. That’s mainly because Snap – remember them? – ran their Snap Partner Summit (Video courtesy of Snapchat) where they announced some amazing products in the pipeline, including Local Lenses, a kind of shared, social augmented reality that can transform your experience of the physical environment around you.

Back in 2019 the iconic technology thinker Kevin Kelly wrote that the next big digital platform would be the Mirrorworld: a kind of one-to-one augmented reality map of the real world around us. The first platform was the web, the second was social media, the third said Kelly will be the Mirrorworld. Well, it looks as though Snap is building the Mirrorworld, and if they succeed it’s going to be a revolution that will truly merge the physical and digital worlds around us and enable incredible new kinds of information and entertainment.

It’s not just Snap trying to own this space. The new kid on the social block is TikTok. People came for the crazy dances, but maybe they’ll stay for the augmented reality lenses that TikTok is starting to introduce. Maybe THEY want to own the Mirrorworld?

There are already augmented reality workouts where you have to perform certain exercises to make a ball go through a maze. Juventus player Douglas Costa shows how it is done. Augmented reality dancing could be a thing?

There’s so much we can’t fully understand about what life inside the Mirrorworld will be like, but one creator gave an indication this week of how it could transform our experience of social events. In this case protests.

This is work by Bas Gezelle, who created a number of AR lenses for the Black Lives Matter protests. So it’s not just games, the Mirrorworld can also inspire people to take action, can rally people around a movement, and so on.

How is the real world changing?

It is intriguing indeed, how we are bringing more and more of the digital world into our physical spaces - and how will the pandemic change our spaces, our cities, our neighborhoods?

See what Amsterdam looked like in 1922. Now bear with us for a moment. The above video contains a tech story because this video looks much better than you would have expected. Denis Shiryaev from Moscow dug up some old footage and enhanced it. A neural network trained on movies artificially generates additional frames for the footage and adds color as well. You can find out more at neural.love

Anyway, let’s have a look at today, in a video by Thomas Schlijper, chronicler of city life. This is what the Lockdown looked like in Amsterdam.

Seemingly the Dutch have just kept their tradition. But that is not what happened. In the early seventies, cars were very popular, blocking inner cities, but also taking many lives. People were cycling less and less. Two things happened around the same time: citizens started protests because so many children died in car accidents, and the oil crisis hit with car-free Sundays and a need to change focus. Mark Wagenbuur of Bicycle Dutch has the story.

Only then did the Dutch start to design city centers differently, with pedestrian areas and ample ways for bicycles. So a bicycle nation by design - but a double crisis was needed to make it happen.

And now we have a double crisis again, with climate change and a pandemic happening at the same time, plus a lot of new technology - like electric bicycles, navigation tools and lots more.

The number of cities that have moved suddenly and ambitiously to reclaim hundreds of kilometers of streets from the car monopoly and reallocate these public commons for people walking, cycling, and using wheelchairs is incredible. Milan, Brussels, Lima, Vilnius, and many more have now made drastic decisions to transform their cities.

(Follow cycling professor Marco te Brömmelstroet or cycling researcher Brett Petzer for more).

Anyway, where is the tech in all that?

Well, the bicycles themselves are now changing very fast as well. It is as if the cars and bicycles have done some magical cross-pollination, and these days the city is full of all kinds of bi-cycle based transport vehicles and more. Cyclists have navigation tools, bicycles are transformed into transport vehicles, and electric bicycles are everywhere. Just for a glimpse, here is an ad that turns a car into something very appealing - by VanMoof.