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Is the world ready for virtual graffiti?

Imagine a world full of invisible graffiti. Open an app, point your phone at a wall, and empty bricks or cement become a canvas. Create art with digital spray paint and stencils. An augmented reality system permanently stores the location and position, creating the illusion of true street art. If friends or social media followers have the app, they can find your picture on a map and watch it. You can joke a joke on a friend's front door or paint a beautiful mural on the side of a local business.

Now imagine a darker world. Members of hate groups happily exchange pictures of racist followers on civil rights monuments. The students harass each other by spreading malicious rumors on the walls of the house of a target. Small businesses are overburdened when a large influencer installs a sticker on his window. The developers of Mark AR, an app referred to as "the world's first augmented reality platform," are trying to develop a good version of this system. They are still thinking about how to avoid evil.

Mark AR is one of the first projects to build on Google's Persistent Cloud Anchors. The app, created by mobile publisher iDreamSky and Subway Surfers developer Sybo, made its debut at the New York Comic-Con last week, where visitors rent a cell phone and watch a Mark AR pop-up. Installation could create artwork or create their own. Talented artists can use a virtual spray can to paint freehand. Everyone else (myself too) was able to pick from a number of cartoon stencils. In the future, users could create their own templates or even design photos in Photoshop and import them directly.

Mark AR's developers are planning more pop-up exhibits. and after these little test runs, they plan to test the app in a single city. Jeff Lyndon, president of iDreamSky says: "When we start a city, we can test: Can we handle the moderation, can we make sure people play it safe?" "Once we can handle a city, we know exactly how we do it but if our existing social networks have taught us anything, these are massive, complicated – sometimes even impossible – questions to answer.] 19659006] At launch, Mark AR should work a bit like Facebook Users will sign up with real names, probably via Facebook, and when they create art, they can share the place with a single person, a list of friends and followers, or members of a group. Google's ARCore platform uses Google to store the location from GPS and computer vision, capturing details in the environment to use as anchor points Art shares with you, a thumbnail is displayed on a map. When you visit this location and point your phone at the location shown in the thumbnail view, the image you have created will be displayed.

There are many potential technical issues as Cloud Anchors are still very new. However, social issues such as sharing, privacy and abuse are more interesting. Pokémon Go The first successful AR game, posed a series of unexpected questions. Should people in the Holocaust Museum catch Pokémon? (No.) Could it be illegal to put a digital marker on a person's house without permission? (Unclear.) Should app manufacturers worry about their users falling into ponds? (Apparently.)

Mark AR is faced with these issues and with the complications of a creative platform on which anyone can upload content. They are also one of the first players to try to bring such a network to market as a mainstream product – though Microsoft will face similar problems with its AR game Minecraft Earth which the company likes acknowledges.

Mark AR's creators remove some hints Pokémon Go – they become geofence physical spaces like monuments, for example, to be taboo. And they hope that a real-name policy and the friends-based model will limit the number of people making offensive or harassing pictures. "Because there is no anonymity that makes it easier to control people's activities," says Sybo CEO Mathias Gredal Norvig. (It's unclear how true this is.) Facebook has repeatedly had problems with closed groups committed to sharing unacceptable pornography or humiliating women or immigrants.)

Lyndon adds that Mark AR is fighting resources of abuse. "We're working to hire a human moderation team, and we're also working with some technology companies to ensure image recognition – to facilitate moderated machine learning, and to work through just a few of the images very quickly." the approach that larger, purely social online networks have chosen. However, it was difficult to scale. KI can not make sophisticated moderation decisions, and human teams are often overworked and sometimes traumatized when constantly watching horrible content. And while iDreamSky and Sybo are already established companies, they do not have the resources that Facebook could use to solve the problem, for example.

Just to put it bluntly: Mark AR is not synonymous with labeling real graffiti. Users can not spoil or cover up their work. People need to go to digital art. The company can remove images at any time. And Mark AR may not be a public platform. Its creators offer options such as the possibility to decorate private rooms or to organize scavenger hunts for friends and family. In this case, moderation may not be a big problem, provided that the app prevails – which is anything but safe.

But Mark AR's entire purpose is to imitate a public art form. So the most interesting uses are people doing public art. It is a natural complement to events such as comic cons and music festivals, where visitors come together for creative purposes in a physical space. And the idea of ​​walking through a city and finding the random markings left by humans is intriguing. Can Mark AR build a new augmented reality without falling into the same traps as our current digital worlds? That is also a fascinating question.

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