You want a second chance in life? Here is an app

Kerem Gülen
Mar 7, 2023
Apps, Mobile Computing

Human memory is an enigmatic phenomenon that can evoke both happiness and sorrow. Memories can be retrieved in sharp detail, with vivid colors and sounds, but over time, they may fade and become obscure. While technology has allowed us to preserve our cherished memories through home videos, it still falls short of encapsulating the true essence of those precious moments.

Wist, a new application developed by Andrew R McHugh that aims to bridge this gap. Wist provides a unique way for users to capture videos on their mobile phones and transform them into immersive, three-dimensional memories. These memories can be experienced through Augmented Reality on mobile devices or with a virtual reality headset.

As the CEO and co-founder of Wist, McHugh explains that the inspiration for this innovative app comes from the feeling of wistfulness - a sense of longing and regret. With Wist, users can now relive their cherished memories in a whole new way, one that's more immersive and true to the actual moment.

"My grandmother died when I was in middle school. I have some memories from that time, but I don't remember her terribly well. We have some photos and videos, but it's not the same as being there… and she never got to meet my kid," McHugh stated.

This innovative application captures videos using a user's iOS smartphone and transforms them into a 3D immersive experience. Wist accomplishes this by collecting 3D data from the original video, including depth, color, and audio information. Once processed, users can either use their phone's Augmented Reality feature or step into a Quest VR headset to view the memory.

McHugh showcased this groundbreaking technology by sharing some of his own cherished memories through Wist. With the VR headset, a live feed of the immersive environment was displayed, featuring a 3D video of his baby as they popped up against a wall in his living room, complete with the sound of infant laughter. As he approached the memory in his real living room, the edges of the 3D video softly blurred out, but the core of the memory remained crystal clear.

After Wist posted a video demonstrating its capabilities, it quickly went viral on Twitter. While some people found the technology to be cool and futuristic, others expressed concern that it may have dystopian undertones, reminiscent of the darkly satirical Black Mirror episode, "The Entire History of You."

Experience memories in a Black Mirror-esque world

In the "The Entire History of You" episode of Black Mirror, a tech implant with similar technology to Wist allows users to capture and rewatch their memories, leading to dire consequences. However, during McHugh's recent demonstration of Wist, he showed that memories could be experienced individually or shared with loved ones in an immersive and safe manner. He also highlighted the importance of this feature during his child's pregnancy.

McHugh first came up with the idea for Wist, originally called Vivid, while working as an AR/VR team lead and senior designer at Samsung. In 2021, he left his four-year position and teamed up with Michael Oder, the CTO and co-founder of Wist, to work on the project. At the end of January 2023, the duo launched the first beta version of Wist, showcasing their revolutionary technology to the world.

While Wist shows great promise, it currently has some limitations. For instance, it is only compatible with the latest iOS phones and two Quest VR headsets. However, McHugh expects Wist's compatibility to expand in the future as the team is continuously working to enhance the technology. Additionally, despite the incredible advancements made in memory capture technology, there are still some elements of memory, such as smell, that remain impossible to capture.

Andrew R McHugh and Michael Oder, the co-founders of Wist, are actively seeking feedback from beta users to improve the app's capabilities. Their efforts include enhancing data security and developing the ability to upconvert videos not originally captured through the app. While the timeline for a wider release is yet to be announced, interested users can request to join the private beta via the Wist website.

McHugh is highly optimistic about Wist's potential and views it as a significant step forward in a series of technological advancements aimed at addressing the challenges of human memory. With continued development, Wist may offer an innovative solution for preserving cherished memories and sharing them with loved ones in a more immersive and true-to-life way.

"Technology has always enabled us to record moments and get back to them. Even the technology of drawing, painting and writing. Those technologies were the first way we captured moments–it's something that's always been there," McHugh stated.


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