Eccescopy, part 15

One question to ask when talking about a new way of looking at the world (literally), is “How do we get from here to there?” In particular, how do we develop applications for a technology that we have not yet finished creating?

One approach is to fake it. Or, to put it in a somewhat more dignified way, to create a functional prototype. In other words, we don’t need to actually build a device to be able to use it — we just need to build some other device that behaves the same way, albeit under controlled conditions.

For example, we can start to work out what a face-to-face eccescopic conversation between two people might be like through the use of head trackers and transparent projection screens. In particular, we can use some present-day technology, such as an Optitrack optical tracker, to measure with high accuracy the positions and orientations of the heads of two people, 200 times per second.

Both people will need to wear some sort of passive tracking markers, perhaps attached to a headband, but that’s ok — such markers won’t interfere with eye contact, and will serve just fine for a prototype.

In addition, we can use one of several types of transparent projection screens, such as the “CristalLine” rear projection screen from Woehburk, or the DaLite Holo Screen. Two people can look at each other through such a screen, while two projectors are projected onto the screen from opposite sides (so that each person sees only one of the rear projections).

Then we can use the tracked position of the two peoples’ heads to, for example, create the illusion of objects floating between the two participants, continually correcting the apparent position and orientation of those objects as each participant moves his/her head.

We can then use a gesture recognition system such as Microsoft Kinect to track free-hand gestures by the two participants. Eventually we would like miniaturized Kinect-like tracking devices to be built directly and unobtrusively into eccescopic headgear.

Of course this is not perfect. Not only do the two participants need to stay generally in one location, but they also cannot reach out and put their hands through the screen. Yet for prototyping what the experience of an eccescopic might feel like — and then implementing and testing out prototype applications — this isn’t such a bad place to begin.

By the way, does anybody think that the word “ambiscope” (which translates roughly into “device to look around”) is better than “eccescope”?

One Response to “Eccescopy, part 15”

  1. Kraig says:

    I have to be honest I don’t know how to say it. My mother visited while I was reading and questioned the “ekky-scope.” Ambiscope does sound cooler, it flows off the tongue easier at least. Perhaps someone in marketing or publishing would be able to back it up with some more formal reasons than that! Interesting stuff though Mr Perlin, interesting stuff…

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