A Walkman for your eyes

A Walkman for your eyes

Summary: New Scientist has an excellent article on "highways in the sky"--an immersive heads-up display that replaces cockpit windows with artificially-generated images of terrain (from radar-based aerial maps) and nearby aircraft. It's also augmented with instrument readouts and nested rectangles that show your projected flight path.

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TOPICS: Tech Industry
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New Scientist has an excellent article on "highways in the sky"--an immersive heads-up display that replaces cockpit windows with artificially-generated images of terrain (from radar-based aerial maps) and nearby aircraft. It's also augmented with instrument readouts and nested rectangles that show your projected flight path. At night, in the fog, this technology will probably save a lot of lives.

So what?

Technology curves being what they are, there's every reason to suppose that this machinery will one day make it into personal, immersive HUDs. At that point, it'll become possible to augment your world with boring things like reviews that pop up when you stare at the corresponding restaurant or illuminated pathways that guide you through a walking tour.

The interesting applications will come from doing for our eyes what the Walkman did for our ears--replacing (or augmenting) our usual sensory inputs with more pleasant ones. That's right: I'm talking about virtual reality overlays for the physical world. People with "I Brake for Hobbits and Unicorns" bumper stickers (who have always worried me) will populate their augmented worlds with simpering fairy-tale characters. The rest of us will probably people our cityscapes with celebrities who smile warmly as we pass by. If you don't like the architecture of your town, replace it! Convert those strip malls to the Cathedral of Chartres! (Selling the rights to these overlays will be big business.) Our cities will decay around us and we won't care, because all the sidewalks will look like the Yellow Brick Road and all the buildings will be pristine examples of the finest architecture the world has to offer! Toxic waste dumps will become meadows filled with hobbits and unicorns (watch only from a distance), thereby reducing our incentive to clean them up! Okay, maybe this isn’t such a good idea. Try to forget I mentioned it.

Topic: Tech Industry

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4 comments
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  • Technology is a double-edged sword

    The more wired we become, the more danger we face in totally losing touch with reality, as well illustrated by your finishing paragraphs in this article. I can think of a lot of benefits and disadvantages to this technology. From the human element perspective, I wonder about the de-humanization effect of such technology. The walkman already makes it possible for people in an urban environment to "disconnect" somewhat from their fellow humans, around them. Now they wouldn't even have to see them. In light of the danger of wandering blind in most US cities, on the other hand, I would definitely think twice about limiting my senses while trying to navigate potentially dangerous areas during my daily commute.
    Kamikaze_Ohka
  • Just another big billboard in front of us for Advertising...

    If it's a surface, and we can see it, some Jackel will advertise to us on it.

    I can year it now...

    "Sorry officer, the crash happened bacause I saw this SPAM from Microsoft for Windows Vista come up on my windshield. It made me SO mad!"

    For reference, the year is 2010 and Vista still hasn't shipped.
    BitTwiddler
  • disconnecting not such a bad thing

    If it leads to peace of mind, why not? The problem becomes, (as with any "drug") that it's overuse impairs the ability interact with "real" problems, situations, or even good things happening. I am sitting at my personal disconnect right now, communicating with "people" that exist in a reality that I cannot see, taste, or touch, yet I believe exist, and perhaps even care about what I have to say (or not, since so much of this relationship is about me.) In many ways this magic can create, but also destroy. It is about using the Genie (now loosed from the bottle), and the wishes that you make.

    My guiding principal...Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.
    pesky_z
  • Why stop there ...

    Full immersion "ala star trek" yipee!!!
    BTW ... will this technology eliminate wars ?

    IMHO just one more gimmick in a world full of them.
    IanX