Options and Futures    Sound Track

Sound Track                                drawing: woman with a walkman-like device on her back and a cube in her hand

In common Virtual Reality systems, a drawn 3-D view of a model world is changed in accordance with the movements of a human user in the real world; if the user turns his or her head, the view shifts; if the user moves a real hand, a drawing of a virtual hand moves accordingly.

But how does a VR system know where its user's hand is? There are many possible approaches to this; one that is frequently employed in commercial system is the Polhemus. A Polhemus tracker is a small cube - one or two inches in height - that is connected to a heavier ``base station'' with thin cables. The movements of the cube in an electromagnetic field that the base station emits can be sensed and transmitted to a computer in some way.

Once the position of the cube is known, it can be used to control anything: commonly a position of a virtual object or of the camera, but just as well the pitch of a sound, or the hue of a color.

The system I have in mind consists of one or two motion trackers (the lighter and less obtrusive, the better), an audio output device, and a game console with some exchangeable storage medium, like those used for home videogames.  In the console is a small computer than can execute programs on cartridges.

For this small, portable platform, different applications can be bought:


Kudos to the Very Nervous System and related work by David Rokeby for teaching me that even inexperienced users can make interesting sounds.