When walls have eyes

There will be a time, somewhere in the future, when people will all get eye implants at birth that turn the entire world into the Holodeck. Out of their cyber-enhanced eyes, people will be able to see whatever their minds need or want to see at that moment. But that probably won’t start to happen for at least a half a century.

Meanwhile, clever people will come up with intermediate ways of approximating the visual effect of the Holodeck. I was talking with a friend the other day and we realized that we both had the same idea of how this would be done.

The problem is that it’s insanely expensive to make walls that create the illusion, from every possible viewing angle, of a convincing 3D scene. To compute the complexity of this task, the number of pixels on the wall would have to be multiplied by the number of viewing angles — and the result would be a really really big number. By the time we can afford something like that, we’ll already be wearing those eye implants.

No, my friend and I agreed that rather than try to synthesize every possible viewpoint of an imaginary scene, the walls will have little imbedded cameras that watch us, and always know where our eyes are.

When I look at such a wall, it will know — through a combination of a high resolution camera and advanced image processing — the precise location of my left eye and of my right eye. The wall will show a synthetic image only visible from the direction of my left eye, and another such image only visible from the (slightly different) direction of my right eye.

To me the effect will be the same as though I were wearing high quality movement-tracked virtual reality goggles — only without the goggles.

If another person comes along, the wall will also sense the positions of their eyes, and will show two more synthetic images, one for that person’s left eye, the other for his/her right eye.

This will continue as more people enter the room. If there are ten people in the room, the wall will be simultaneously showing twenty different views into an imaginary scene — each visible only from the direction of a single eye.

To anyone in the room, the result will appear as a vivid, coherent, shared 3D view into an imaginary world. Each of these views will exactly as it should from that person’s position in the room. After a while, this will all come to seem prosaic. People won’t question the virtual reality all about them anymore than they now question, say, the image on their TV screen.

And then, a few decades later, everyone will get those post-natal eye implants, and none of this will be necessary.

2 Responses to “When walls have eyes”

  1. Mari says:

    What’s also cool would be, if one could see through someone else’s eyes… I think my daughter has strange 3D vision because of her condition, and so does kids with dyslexia I think. But then by the time technology is where you are talking about, they will have long fixed dyslexia…?

  2. […] comment in response to one of my recent posts has gotten me thinking about the nature of subjective experience. Mari wonders what might the […]

Leave a Reply