“World’s First” Augmented Reality Virtual Communion! (can ≠ should)

Every once in a while I like to do a code commentary where I program something to illustrate a broader point about technology (like the Bible reader or TwitterVoice3D).

This is a demo of a relatively new and very cool technology called “augmented reality.” When I saw a demo for the first time, I imagined there would be some great applications like GE’s Smart Grid demo or this drum kit, but I also wondered when someone would use it for something that is at best silly and at worst inherently wrong.

So I decided to create the “world’s first” augmented reality virtual communion, which fits my criteria of being both downright silly as well as possibly heretical. Please don’t take this too seriously – it’s not meant to engage in complex questions about sacramentology or online church (none of which would actually suggest using this). It’s just a fun example of something that is a technologically can, but not a theological should.

Video Demo

(Built using FLARToolkit and Papervision3D. Sorry for the terrible audio and framerate.)

Try It Yourself

Here’s what you’ll need:

  1. Flash 10 and a webcam
  2. Print off the symbols you want: planets, bread, wine
  3. Point the symbols at the camera

Tips: watch out for screen glare, press SPACE for fullscreen, give it a few seconds to download (965K).


The point of this is first to show off a fun, innovative technology that I’m sure we’ll all see much more of in the coming years, and second to remind us working in the tech world (especially coders like me who always want to use the latest stuff) that just because it’s cool, just because it’s new, just because we’ll be the first, just because we can, or just because it will get us lots of attention doesn’t mean we should.

All of which I just violated – see how silly I look?

Augmented reality virtual communion

Published by

John Dyer

In my day job, I work at Dallas Theological Seminary, and at night I write Bible software for countries whose leaders could be called "overlords." This one time, I wrote a book about technology and Christian faith. You can find out more about what I'm up to at http://j.hn/.

7 thoughts on ““World’s First” Augmented Reality Virtual Communion! (can ≠ should)”

  1. I also think that, at first glance, augmented reality would allow us to do a BUNCH of cool and useful things, including SUPER-comprehensive geotagging, reviews, etc. However, I also see an incredible potential for negative use, including slander, "virtual graffiti", and harassment. I think it would have to be controlled to some degree, but how, I'm not sure. We'll see how far it goes.

  2. did you mean grape juice and not wine….we are in TX? just kidding.

    i don't even know how to respond to it….lots to think about the future implications of technology like this….

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