The following is a Thesis on how generative graphics could effect
Many aspects of modern
technology are moving towards the goal of general integration with
everyday living. As digital imagery evolves, there will be many
new forms of digital imagery that isn't physically possible in the
present day. A brand new experience might be introduced with the
introduction of newer materials, faster computers, or even smaller
devices. An aspect of digitally imagery that will evolve in a subtle
way, however, is in the form of ambient entertainment.
By ambient, I mean images that don't necessarily require the viewer
to pay attention to them directly to experience them, or images
that are simply displayed as background texture to improve or alter
the experience of our physical environment. Future technology would
allow these electronic appliances to alter their function with changes
of environmental variables such as temperature and outside wind
speed, time of day, and even climate. An invention of sorts that
could be classified as an Ambient Projector of sorts would be a
digital, or Virtual Ceiling.
Constructed out of a type
of LCD display and mounted directly on the ceiling panels of a room,
this Virtual Ceiling would allow the user to view virtual "skies"
depending out the outside environmental variables. A high wind outside
could allow people in the room to look up at the ceiling and witness
treetops blowing in a virtual breeze, abstract forms that resemble
the visual structure of a hurricane, or even (if the people inside
are a bit nervous of the outdoor weather), it could display a calming
mellow blue sky and sun. Other alternatives could rely on temperature.
A very hot day could trigger sensors in the ceiling to display the
undersides of beachside palm trees, a deeply moving display of cumulous
clouds shrouded by sunlight, or possibly even something of a more
cooling nature. Such as falling snow, or even, if the programmer
of this particular scenario was devilishly clever, possibly the
underside of a frozen lake, so the viewers of the ceiling would
feel as though they were underneath 6 inches of ice, floating through
freshwater, as cool as a clam.
Customers who installed
their virtual ceilings inside a high-rise apartment, could run the
"invisible floor" plug-in, which generated a random assortment
of people, furniture, and miscellaneous activities that appeared
to be floating above their heads, walking on an invisible floor,
as if the ceiling of their apartment were to be removed altogether.
A similar iteration of this missing ceiling could be the New York
Manhattan Flat plug-in, which allowed meager apartment owners to
emulate 16 foot ceilings. (The program is well designed. It would
tile the existing wall textures perfectly, so you wouldn't notice
a seam between were the physical wall ends, and the virtual ceiling
and walls begin, of course).
Some classic favorites to be had by owners this device are obviously:
Underwater Exploration (an actual saltwater aquarium underneath
your head), Beautiful Sunset, Inside the Ant Hill, Floating Through
Jello (red goo above your head), Tropical Rain, Lush Forest, Mirror
(well hidden cameras would photograph the room in real time, and
invert it so that it would seem as though you were mirrored on top.
You could look up at yourself and wave). Pointer (arrows follow
people in the room).
Also, for the more contemporary
owners, the ceiling could emulate various textures of ceiling, rather
than generate scenes that would regularly and architecturally be
out of place. These more austere examples would include various
tiles, textures, stained glass, or wood.
A more expandable aspect
of the Virtual Ceiling would include the possibility to include
the support of visualization plug-ins, which take the immediate
sounds from the environment and translate them into abstract visuals.
These visuals could range from simple graphical representations
of the incoming sonic wave forms, or the complexity of a random
generation of beautiful colors, shapes, motion, and time.
Eventual evolutions of this Virtual Ceiling would include ways for
the user to purchase sonic add-ons, which included speakers and
microphones to alter the experience. For example, if the Rain scenario
were to be displayed on the ceiling, the soothing splashes and drizzle
would flow through the speakers mounted in the celing as if it was
really Seattle. Seagulls would sound in the distance if the user
had Palm Beach set as the current display, and if we were to experience
the underwater environment, sounds of glooping water, closely swimming
fish, and subtle, soothing sounds of the waves would get us in the
mood for rest.
Power for the panels would
most likely come from a solar source, mounted outside the physical
building to which there are installed. Sensors would also have to
be installed outside to sense changes in time and temperature, as
many aspects of the invention are depended on certain changes in
both of these factors. Interfaces that would allow the user to interact
with the machine would include a remote control to flip through
presets, and also the ability to connect their computer system to
the machine, which gives them power to download countless predefined
scenarios from the internet.
Obvious iterations of this invention would involve more usual and
expected scenes, such as a starry night, or Milky Way version to
allow for amateur stargazers to simply sit back on their couches
and count shooting stars. A plug-in could be developed to shoot
them 5 light-years across the galaxy to see star fields not visible
from earth, (instantly giving indoor stargazers a quite intriguing
As we were to lay down to sleep underneath our digital Virtual Ceiling,
we could count constellations under the virtual night sky, pick
out planets, and make a night time wish to the falling stars.
Then, in the morning, we would wake up to the soothing spill of
light of the virtual sunrise, as if we were sleeping underneath
the open sky.