splash


Dreams. I'm curious.

If alchohol affects conscious behavior, why not dreams as well? Are drunken dreams different from sober dreams?

There needs to be a good way to find out. Unfortunately, not many people are good at describing their dreams, and even if they were good at it, the things they are able to describe might not be the interesting things. There should be a better way of relating dreams.

I'm thinking of a machine that contains all the music, sounds, smells, images, and feelings in the world. That's not so hard to imagine.

The trick is smoothly getting them out and playing them.

It occurs to me that something like this is what all artists do. They are reaching into their dreams and putting them out there for us.

I would like there to be an easier way to do this. I'm thinking that it has to bypass all the usual impediments to expression- by the time we can think of the words to describe our dreams, we've already lost the essence. Whatever the interface is to the dream machine, it has to be very direct, very intuitive.

I'm thinking gestures. Not gestures you need to learn to operate the machine, but common gestures you already know. Waving your hand around in space, plucking things out of the air, pushing them aside, stacking them up... gestures we've all mastered by the age of three.

With this sort of interface it would be easy to choose between sounds that were menacing and sounds that were calming, between smells that were ugly and smells that were delicious, between familiar scenes and distorted scenes...all very quickly.

It would be a lot of fun to program such an interface. Sadly, the available interfaces (Kinect? Leap Motion?) aren't subtle enough yet to track our small gestures. We have sledgehammers when we need a Stradivarius...

(later)

Fittingly, the "instrument" I was looking for came to me in a dream this morning. Being Saturday, I was allowing myself a good long sleep-in. Everytime I'd wake, I'd think about this problem- how to have a computer sense fine gestures. Then I'd go back to sleep and dream some more. I had a number of dreams, but in the last one I was in a restaurant facing a city street. It was wintertime, and there were a line of small ornamental trees there. I noticed that there was a squirrel sitting in each tree in the middle of the bare branches. Then I noticed that one of them was wearing a scarf! Even in my dream, I "knew" this was wrong, and I decided that the restaurant employees must have dressed the squirrels warmly- no, that's couldn't be right, and then the squirrels became stuffed squirrels, and that "made sense", until one of them left the tree, and it turned out to be a hat this tall woman was wearing. As she crossed the street I saw that she was wearing leggings of some type of artificial fur, course, and brightly colored.

This was the answer. Rather than remotely sensing the position of someone's fingers, it would be necessary to have them touching something like this. It would be a (conceptually) simple matter to attach sensors to each fiber, and from the movement of the fibers determine what the fingers were doing. The fibers would spring back to their starting point, providing tactile feedback to the user (I remembered at one point in my waking/dreaming that it's important that people using input devices have some sort of "push-back" in order to know what they're doing- which is one reason why remote sensing isn't working so well- like playing a theremin!)

So, wakie, wakie! I had an answer to the gesture input problem and decided to post something here about it. I went looking for something to illustrate the idea- something along the lines of shag carpeting, only a little stiffer. I thought of those little hairs on paramecium, and I thought of cilia. Cilia! Just the sort of thing I was looking for. After scanning through a page of Googled images, I found this...

Video- Super Cilia Skin

Website- Super Cilia Skin

Not exactly how I was thinking of doing it, but here's the basic idea, already out there. Somebody give me a grant...