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Submitted By: Will Jennings
I pull my lens out of the inside pocket of my purse by feel. Ack, no, that's my driver's license. I put my license back, fish out the lens, and hold it up in front of me. The screen takes a moment to come on, and then it shows the soup aisle in front of me. I turn and the view changes, like looking through an empty picture frame. The image lags behind my movement just enough to remind me it's technology, just enough to make me wonder again how they make the cameras so little.
I get all my usual info overlaid on the scene: the actual price I'd pay with my discount card, the X in front of non-vegan varieties. But I've been playing Muses again, so I'm looking for... there he is. Through the lens, leaning against the Cream of Mushroom shelf, is Joe Jonas, DJ Danger, the brother who never got arrested, looking a little bored in a cute way but happy to see me.
"Would you do something for me, May?" The speakers on the lens are highly directional and only I'd be able to hear him very well.
"Probably, what?" I move my mouth like I'm talking, but don't vocalize. The lens's lip-reading is pretty good, and even though everybody else does it, I get a little embarassed talking to someone that isn't there.
"There's a sweet old lady in the apartment building next door to you, just got out of the hospital from a hip replacement, could use a meal and some company. Loves green bean casserole with the crispy fried onions on top, but use the low-sodium kind, okay?" A scruffy man with a basket of beef and beer approaches the soup cans; in my lens, Joe Jonas strolls out of his way.
"I can do that," I mouth. On the frame of the lens, my task list icon brightens. When I pull it up, there will be a few tasks like the one I've just accepted, things that the game asked of me that I might not otherwise think about doing, but most of it's just my list of everything I want to get done. The way that Muses really helps is by forcing me to break down all of my goals into clear, measurable steps, showing me my progress, encouraging me, and rewarding me. It's kind of like having a personal trainer for everything.
In my lens, a can of Cream of Mushroom pulses. Must need that for the casserole. I drop it in my cart, my shopping list slides out from the side of the lens (the ingredients for the casserole are highlighted, since they've just been added), and in the air, I draw a line through "1 can, Cream of Mushroom soup". The list could update automatically, sure, but it's so much more satisfying to cross things off yourself.
"Cool. Call me later." Joe sticks his hands in his jeans pockets and walks down the aisle and out of sight.
Funny thing: I know I got an eldercare task because last night I told Muses I was feeling just a little lonely and useless, and the app knows from my facial expression logs that this kind of task has cheered me up in the past. I know it's all algorithms and stuff. But it still makes me feel like I get to do favors for Joe Jonas, not just for me, not just for my neighbors.
I know people that use a different Muse for every to-do on their lists, but I've stuck with DJ Danger for a long time now, long after I got our relationship to BFF and unlocked all of his guitar lessons. First it was for the retro kitsch factor, but now it's just kind of out of habit. Okay, for a while I was using Shirtless Joe Jonas, but that was a grey mod and after I updated the firmware on my lens, I started getting unauthorized celebrity likeness usage surcharges on my bill like you wouldn't believe. So that was the end of that.
Four months after my mother died, I tried switching my Muse to her. I was having trouble getting out of bed in the morning, and it was always my mom that woke me up when I was little. An hour before my first class, my lens rang on the bedside table. I fumbled for it, and there was her voice: "Would you do something for me, May?"
When I looked through the lens, there she was on the window seat, wearing her red blouse, pieced together from all of the video and pictures of her anyone had ever put on Flickr. It wasn't as weird as I'd expected. It wasn't as weird as cleaning out her saved letters or watching her wedding video.
"Get up and go for your jog, won't you? I've put a route in your lens."
"I can do that," I said, and I put my hair in an elastic and grabbed my sweats. On the bedside table, my lens showed her relationship bar creep slightly to the right. There were a few ghosts of the badges I could unlock with her, but I didn't care about those.
She woke me up on time every morning for a month, and I haven't had any special trouble getting out of bed since. I changed my Muse back to DJ Danger then. I'm not really sure why. Maybe the Muse of my mom was just too proud of me to be believable; maybe I got my chance to say goodbye. Maybe my mom just isn't as hot as Joe Jonas.
MUSES (2020) (For lens devices meeting the 4L standar.)
- Attaches game incentives to real-world tasks
- Integrates with a personal task tracker
- Uses connectivity and life-logging data to generate missions that let strangers be of service to one another
- Representations of famous or beloved people take a personal interest in your mundane successes
- Controlled by voice / lip-synching, touch screen, and by video analysis of real-world interactions