These advances feel almost evolutionary. Humans are arriving at this heightened state through technology, but many animals already sense things we can’t. Pit vipers “see” thermal radiation of their prey, salmon are sensitive to magnetic fields, and arctic reindeer see into the UV spectrum to distinguish between food and snow.

Our differing experience of reality was made abundantly clear to me by my panther chameleon, Mr. Green. One day while passing through an underground garage on the way to his favorite hydrangea hunting ground, Mr. Green suddenly became skittish and completely on edge, ducking and weaving, eyes glued to the ceiling. We never saw the threat that he did in this space: a canopy of hot pipes and fluorescent lights.

Chameleons perceive light beyond our relatively limited human visible spectrum. To Mr. Green, the mess of infrastructure above our heads was a flashing danger sign; to us, it was simply an eyesore. He saw what we did not, and his reality was therefore quite different from the humans around him.

I thought of Mr. Green the next time I put on an AR headset and found myself gesticulating to the invisible. My own visual experience was completely unseen by the people around me, yet to me, it was very real.

What you see and your understanding of it will soon be different from the person next to you, and we will no longer have a common experience of our shared environment. When AR arrives in its fuller and more integrated state, the challenge for our technologically tiered society will be how we stay in sync with one another. Who will be the chameleons of the future, and what will they see that the rest of us cannot?

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