Opening a window

Sometime in the coming years, as I’ve written in my Eccescopy posts, each of us will simply take for granted an unobtrusively worn personal communication device. Just as we now use our SmartPhones for all sort of diverse things — browsing the web, capturing photos and video, finding our way around town, sending and receiving texts, even talking on the telephone! — we will use the cellphone’s wearable successor for an even more diverse variety of daily tasks.

Unlike the SmartPhone, this wearable interface will always be able to know where we are looking. New interface paradigms will emerge that build on our ability to make things happen simply by directing our gaze. But gaze detection is a two-way street. Not only will these devices obey our commands, but they will also accumulate a vast body of data about where people look when they are going about their daily lives.

I suspect that we will discover that we spend a disproportionate amount of time looking at other human faces. Further, I suspect that we will find that we spend much of that time looking into other people’s eyes. In a sense, our wearable technologies, and what they reveal about us, will open a window into the window of the soul.

The somewhat monstrous sensory humuculus below represents what a human body would look like if each part grew in proportion to the area of the cortex of the brain concerned with its sensory perception.

One could similarly imagine a visual humunculus — what the world itself would look like if everything were proportional to the amount of time we spend looking at it. Someday soon we will be able to gather enough data through our wearable interfaces to see what this humunculus looks like. I suspect that it will be dominated by a huge pair of eyes, with much of the rest consisting of a face, and all the rest of existence crowded into the edges.

I wonder whether we will find it monstrous or beautiful.

2 Responses to “Opening a window”

  1. ulmedas says:

    I hope that each individual’s visual humunculus of others will not be publicly available, as there could be some serious social condemnation if certain individuals secretly leave his or her gaze lingering on body parts other than the face on a regular basis.

  2. admin says:

    Tee hee.

    I think the same rules of privacy that currently allow society to function would still be in effect. The question of what constitutes a protected zone of privacy is not a function of technology but rather of social consensus, which is sometimes codified into law — and in the case of search engines, of enlightened self-interest.

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