Multiple eyes

May 8, 2011 § 1 Comment

We have moving and inquisitive eyes. Together we see more and enjoy what we see together. This is exactly why the mobile phone (mp) displays are such a pain to use. The experience of being attentively locked, alone, socially excluded, onto one specific and immobile spatial location in the world, the display, is a most unnatural situation to any healthy human being or animal.

Why don’t we have multiple display devices, like a deck of cards? Why don’t the mp manufactures offer us a couple of inexpensive displays to be used in synchrony, spatially and temporally coordinated? Why not give a new opportunity to software developers to help us with innovative distributed display apps? With the help of multiple displays we could become technically more social at once.

A curious psychological phenomenon that we all can experience and observe at home, work and public places is people becoming almost catatonic when attending to the small displays of their hand-held devices. There is a psychological paradox: apparently everyone enjoys that intensively immersive process, but deep in their souls, there must be the uncomfortable sensation of being too much focused and closed to the world, out-of-the-world, not-allowed-to-move-eyes-around. Alone.

Socially it is a pain as well; it is like observing an alcoholic or a game addict: we suffer from looking at it but typically we cannot help.  Exactly the same psychological phenomenon occurs in meeting rooms, during phone conferences, where everyone fixates at and talks – in a strange and cold tone – to the microphone(s) and even to the loud speaker on the table.

So, why don’t we have multiple displays? We could have them as many as we like for each phone or even for network of phones. The price is not the hindrance, and neither is the near-field or even directed communication technology. Perhaps the first one to do it will again “surprise” the market.

We know that in the near future, and already now, we will have effective light-weight image projection systems in our devices but as far as we can see now, we will not be carrying around large displays, even the flexible ones,  or holographic systems that would create images in the air in front of us. HMDs (Head Mounted Displays) are already available and in use, but they still have a way to go and there is much to improve in their perceptual-experiential use qualities. Also their users can suffer from a similar out-of-the–world experience. See-through does not help when your attention is misplaced or locked. The design has a social flaw.

Here are some simple functions for multiple displays:

When people get together it is a social joy to share any object of interest. A simple example is a map that we look at when planning a trip, describing our travel history, discussing global events, for example. What if we could have a map shared in several small linked/connected displays? Even better, what if the displays were spatially locked to the main mp so that simply by moving my display I could select which part of the key map (in the main mp), and even the information linked to that location, I want to observe?

Why don’t parents have a direct view on the mp displays of their small children? Even adults could enjoy this, provided it is based “permission to view” conditions.

Having different display types for use: one with electronic paper to be read under bright sunlight and another for 3D viewing, one for games. There is no real reason to keep the display in one device only.

Viewing photos in a group, not a real brainer but useful and simple fun.

Doing many things at the same time and leaving one job on the table while doing another – via a mp. Like magazines and books.

How about one display for each content, each display mediating all its associated and specific information, messages, adverts, links, and other stuff relevant only to that content.  Would be nice to know what content each of my displays communicates: the difference between magazines and mp’s would diminish. We could keep our displays in a shelf like dvd’s now. Fewer maybe but much more content.

A specific content could also be a person or persons with whom we want to be directly connected with. And for a while, we could be relieved from the continuous browsing clicking, scrolling mania. There is no limit to the size and functionality of  these visually distributed communities.

Amazing things become possible with a simple idea like this. But I will not be surprised to hear the familiar comments to this: “Too complex.” “Expensive.” “No real business.” “We tried it already.”  “Interesting.”

But “Multiple Eyes” remains an inspiring concept. Add to this the cheaper, smaller and better cameras, and only a poor imagination can stop us.

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