You may not see anything out of the ordinary when you see him walking through an airport or sitting in a coffee shop with his laptop or tablet out on the table. You may not perceive that it’s a hacker behind those stylish sunglasses, which appear to be connected to his devices, or that he’s watching multi-monitor displays within an augmented reality space.
Think about it. Managing multiple screens and switching between displays that are running various tasks isn’t uncommon among individuals who typically run multiple tasks with a heavy workload. That’s why I’m an avid Ubuntu user, which makes window and task switching seamless.
I’m writing this article within an augmented reality (AR) space. I’m looking at four different screens, which, oddly enough, satisfies my ADD-driven brain’s constant need for stimulation and overflowing information. As I lift my eyes ever so slightly, I can observe a number of windows superimposed over my field of vision.
If I choose to, I can see the environment around me or block it out entirely with a single button. I prefer nearly transparent displays, so I can also use my laptop and other devices while on the go while using my physical devices and being aware of my surroundings.
As an ethical hacker, I find this technology very appealing, especially once I overcame the initial motion sickness. But the more I've acclimatized to it, the easier it's become. Regarding functionality, I'm able to visualize and analyze incoming threat intelligence reports delivered to me from analysts sending me incident tickets, as well as monitor direct messages while simultaneously writing this article. I can do this without missing a beat.
Not only can I watch my notifications, but I can also hear them being spoken to me using additional apps and device settings. Additionally, I can feel them with bone-conducting ear headphones. This means I don’t have to pick up my devices while I’m working unless it’s an emergency. I can interact with augmented objects using the smart device it’s connected to, whether it’s my touch screen laptop, phone, or tablet.
Perhaps this description sounds overstimulating, at least for the average person. But I justify it for many reasons, especially when everyday users often find themselves swiping between multiple apps and get easily distracted whenever a notification appears. My brain chemistry feels less distracted when I don’t have to swipe across apps one by one and ultimately forget what I'm doing.
The antithesis of tech
I started my journey with technology a little late by today’s standards. I've seen parents these days buy iPads for their toddlers to play with – this is now pretty much the new norm. But in contrast, when I was growing up, I didn’t even know what a CD was until I was almost twelve back in 1996. Funnily enough, CDs had already existed since 1982. To say I had a very sheltered upbringing would be an understatement, and modern technology just wasn’t a part of it.
To drive the point home on how behind the times I lived, back when I was a teenager in the late 90s, I was invited to a birthday party and encouraged to participate because they had a PlayStation. I was woefully antisocial and needed to make an effort to connect more with my peers. But in my mind, a PlayStation sounded like some high-tech playground, maybe with flashing neon lights or something. It sounded stupid. No, I didn’t want to play at your PlayStation. I was too old to play at playgrounds.
It wasn’t until an entrepreneur strong-armed my mother into letting me own and use a personal computer that a whole new world opened itself up to me, and like Alice tumbling down the rabbit hole, I dove headfirst into a reality I previously could have never fathomed existed. Thus, I went from being raised by parents from a forgotten era to the very cusp of the present technology dynamic in one giant leap.
Nowadays, I consider myself symbiotic, and possibly more enmeshed in technology than my friends. I rely on wearable technology such as my AR glasses and other smart devices with haptic capabilities to help me stay connected, wired, and able to receive and send information while constantly learning, no matter where I am or what I’m doing.
There are times in high-intensity traffic environments, like driving through Dallas, I will use AR glasses with a low, transparent view while driving. Being able to keep a close eye on my speed, speed limit, and map position helps me not have to take my eyes off the road.
A few newer model smart vehicles come equipped with AR windshields or Heads Up Displays (HUD). However, I do not recommend this to everyone. Due to State laws, which are ever-evolving and changing form, especially as technology advances, it's important to be privy to your local laws and regulations before trying something new behind the wheel of a motor vehicle.
The hacker in me appreciates this fancy tech, especially used in tandem with bone-conducting headphones and Text-to-speech (TTS) message and notification reading.
At the end of the day, I am literally one person under the burden of a workload meant for several. Hence, I easily get overwhelmed with trying to keep up with so many different messengers and messages. At one point, I had 15 different messengers, and most of them weren’t even my preference, but others. Therefore, I had to inform people that I would not be downloading additional apps just to communicate with them.
Today, I no longer have to switch screens or windows to address threat reports while writing this article. Instead, as I hear them I merely have to occasionally glance at them in order to correspond visually to what I am listening to.
Without having to pick up and open a new device, I ran several OSINT (Open Source Intelligence) scripts from the terminal, opening them with voice commands. I physically entered their syntax and ran the scripts. To say I lost time is arguable.
Whenever I am researching new cybersecurity tools and techniques, I discover that AR is a great environment to use as a teaching apparatus. That’s because whenever I am watching a video tutorial on YouTube, I lose track of what I’m doing when I have to switch between tabs on my web browser or juggle more than one device. I struggle with an eye-tracking problem. That’s why keeping the tutorial in my field of view helps keep my eyes from having to wander screens looking for where I left off.
When it’s all said and done, I ran my spell check, answered some phone calls, and then packed up my gear and headed out the door. I switched the AR glasses over to my smartphone and took it on the go, feeling like I could take on the world and not feel overwhelmed for once.
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