3D interfaces are emerging rapidly (virtual reality headset, 360-degree screens or domes, public events using sound and laser and media facades) as well as pseudo-3D interfaces (Google glasses, Imax screen TV and 3D movies like Avatar, Cirque du Soleil shows, the the Super Bowl halftime show, Wii, etc.).

These interfaces present a major shift in communications : the transition from information that is ingested by reading to living in the information :

The sixth sense

We have always been told that humans have five senses (sight, taste, hearing, smell, and touch). Now we have a sixth sense : perceiving the physical environment with our whole body : the size of a room, a sunset over a lake, the atmosphere of a street or a square, the symbolic aspects of a political or sporting event, especially if the latter is experienced together with thousands of participants.

Today this is even becoming art: the visual background of a public square with interactive urban facilities (sound swings, public speakers, etc.), or offering light therapy (light and color in the snow of February), projecting images on the facades of buildings or on pivoting mobile screens. See experiments combining light and dance and orchestral music :

It is this sixth sense that enables people to decode the atmosphere that stirs the human being ; it’s a matter of immersion and presence in that immersive space and time. If in the company of other people (festivals or sporting events), the effect is exponential. It can then be said that the event or place has a « soul ».

This is not new. Once upon a time the Nazis and the Communists understood quite well the highly symbolic value of their media events. The Roman gladiators in the Coliseum created and achieved the same.

Presence is the Killer Application.

The quasi-reality helmet or high-end Eye Gear has been in gestation for twenty years (Jaron Lasnier, 1985). It is a mix of several techniques that gives users the impression of being IN (or part of) the information (see Oculus Rift, Sony)

  • a dual screen offers high resolution (1280×800) ;
  • a double screen in a semicircle of 110 degrees, gives the illusion of stereoscopic vision ;
  • a display of 75 frames / second gives the illusion in real time ;
  • a gyroscopic sensor can be used to respond to movements of the head ;
  • earphones ;
  • an infrared camera gives the position of the head relative to the projected space (head tracking) ;
  • 3D software allows to move and interact.

Below a training helmet for a helicopter pilot :

After 2020 (?)

Currently, 3D viewing is used primarily in the fields of games and films. The amplified emotions created by viewing in 3D could possibly be used in the areas of sports, recreation and learning activities (eg surgeon preparing for an operation or medical intervention). Currently, we test 3D with individual people, but the effect on groups will be extraordinary, especially as 3D tracking research will enable us to follow a person in a given space. Towards the future, we must connect all these efforts to seek a better understanding of the brain : see BRAIN project (chapter 3, no 4).

The frightening dark side of 3D : using emotions to manipulate people is an extremely dangerous domain, particularly with respect to making a thing or situation more attractive or to sell. 3D immersive reality risks becoming a drug in the same way that video games or gambling are for some people.