Ghost Traffic Controller

The recent google goggles video, while showing the awesome potential of ubiquitous virtual / augmented reality, focused on social aspects. In our last meeting, we came to appreciate the more introspective potential of VR, in particular following the idea of seeing one’s past selves in everyday life. VR has the potential to externalize introspective processes, allowing people to (privately) examine themselves in the outside world. The idea came partly from racing games; many have the option of ‘ghost racing’, where you race against a ghostly image of your previous best (the better to identify potential improvements), or in the case of the video below, nine-hundred and ninety-nine other racers.

Ghost Traffic Controller
Imagine if, every day, you saw silhouettes of yourself in the places you’d been last week at this time, and every week before that. If this ghost traffic were opaque enough, could they crowd hallways, convincing you to seek alternate routes until those too became crowded with routine?

MIThenge ghosts stalk the infinite.

Used in this way the VR system enables a observation of unthinking routine, particularly useful for the kind of unthinking path-choosing one does walking every day. When slightly late you could see the phase-shift of your schedule, catching glimpses of your on-time past at the ends of hallways, a progression of less-late selfghosts between you. The video below, a cover of Reich’s Clapping Music made by Ned, shows some of the strange visual effects of such phase shifts (and how differently phase-shifts are perceived in sound).

Ghost Traffic Controller is only one use of this idea: with the addition of 3d-cameras, dancers could observe themselves, or even do a group performance with one live performer and many of their selfghosts (in the style of Reich’s Counterpoints). Drivers could avoid the wrong turns that have become habit. Race car drivers could convert this back towards its racing game roots by following themselves around the track, racing against themselves. Other athletes, too, could use self-images to examine their performance. Airplane-ghosts could provide sights for passengers, as well as a kind of VR black box recorder in case of disaster (raising the question of how an object can image itself as if from the outside). Slightly tangentially, furniture assembly could come with a VR demonstration, like lego directions made holograms: a ghostly red block here – real red block placed – a ghostly blue block here.

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