Notes on Lida Cloud… a novel featuring an AR character (Augmented Reality)

Lida Cloud is a ten year old girl with a body like a ghost and a mind like a computer. She is an archild, an augmented reality companion. Lida lives in Singapore, but wants to live on a mountaintop. Lida and her two friends, a dolphin named Sinus and a giraffe named Mugi, journey across Southeast Asia looking for the perfect mountain.

I will be talking about Lida Cloud at the Singapore Young Writers Festival. The book is a personal writing challenge and a way to increase my understanding of how markerless AR might work. Though the book is fictional, the AR used in the book is based on a unified light field delivery system which does not yet exist. Unified light field system AR seems to be the basis of Magic Leap's research.

After some thought, I decided that Lida would exist within a 3 meter square space. She can be seen from anywhere, any distance away, but all of her motions must take place within that 3 meter cube.

Lida is projected from a Source. A Source is a fictitious device/app that is like a Kinect, but in reverse. A Kinect is all about recording sound and motion within a 3D space; a Source is about projecting light and sound into a space.

A Source would require huge amounts of battery power. To maintain realism, I am treating battery life almost as though it were part of Lida’s personality. However, Lida is not based on hard science.

Lida is an archild, or an arkid. The words combine AR (augmented reality) with “child” and “kid”. The word “arbot” also appears in the book. After I had been using the word "arbot " for a while, I researched to see if the word is actually being used. I could only find this. Presently, there are, of course, robotic companions. Books have been populated by robots since the playwright Karel Capek created the word “robots” almost one hundred years ago. Physicality may be the biggest difference between robots and arbots. Arbots, though they appear to be three-dimensional, are made of light. This means that they cannot perform actions like picking things up.

“Beings made of light” could be a description of an arbot. The phrase itself is loaded with religious and new age associations. Not a bad thing, perhaps, but Lida will be as "normal" and "human" as she can be, even in fantastic and unrealistic situations.

Lida Cloud and Publishizer are now in discussions about crowdfunding. Please get in touch if you can support, especially if you know of any book clubs or libraries. Lida Cloud will be likely presented as a novel for young adults, but it is also full of information on Southeast Asia. Food too!

The base of the header image is by Tarotski, who is extremely talented.

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