Friday, 17 August 2012

Simulation rooms for work rest and play?

In sci fi a concept of the Holodeck was an excellent example of a fully adjustable environment for both work and for play. Though in star trek the believability of holograms had reached to a point where environments had form and substance. Considering that long term space travel would require a form of entertainment to take a break from everyday boredom of endless space.

The holodeck is depicted as an enclosed room in which objects and people are simulated by a combination of transported matter, replicated matter, tractor beams, and shaped force fields onto which holographic images are projected. Sounds and smells are simulated by speakers and fragranced fluid atomizers, respectively. The feel of a large environment is simulated by suspending the participants on force fields which move with their feet, keeping them from reaching the walls of the room (a virtual treadmill).

The Star Trek Holodeck was inspired by New York inventor and holographer, Gene Dolgoff, who is also the inventor of the digital projector. In 1973, Mr. Dolgoff was giving a technical paper on his holographic model of the human brain at a conference in Prague, Czechoslovakia. This is where he met attendee Melanie Toyofuku, who became a close friend of Dolgoff’s’ as she was also based in New York. After spending a great deal of time with Mr. Dolgoff learning about his pioneering work in holography, including visiting his holography laboratory (which he built in 1964, making it the first holography lab in New York City), Melanie introduced him to her close friend Gene Roddenberry, who was visiting New York with his wife Majel Barrett in late 1973. Mr. Dolgoff spent the day with Gene and Majel showing them many holograms and explaining his theories of “matter holograms”, the holographic nature of the universe, and the holographic nature of the human brain. Dolgoff emphasized the importance holography will play in the future and that if Gene Roddenberry wanted to be accurate he must introduce holography into his Star Trek scripts, including the concept of a holographic “room” for the crew to use for amusement, training, and other purposes.

Holograms are decades away from looking realistic looking projections, today there seems to be two types of methods in which a holographic display may present itself. Using a complex set of interference patterns to add or subtract the image, this system can only be viewed by the right angle. This needs eye tracking technology and processing power to compute the picture out of the screen and into a point in space in front of the screen. The other method could be much simpler, using a new type of plastic that is sensitive to light it can store an image in which a laser has temporary placed. Similar to a rewritable CD a series of laser scans can scan across the plastic at least 25 times a second for a video effect.

Despite these methods of hologram technology, there have been real world solutions to a simulated room environment. L.C.D projectors can now project large walls and with 3D imaging it is possible to allow to give the observer a extra dimension when placed in the National Laboratory's Computer Assisted Virtual Environment or CAVE. The CAVE can allow engineers scientists and designers to effectively walk into their work data and see from the ground up, the view of a unique perspective. Humans work best graphically and with this new way of simulating the information before constructing or executing any plans, people can now make better decisions with the information displayed.

The use of a simulated room doesn't end at a work situation, though expensive it is now possible to project a 360 degree battle simulation. A large dome with overhead projectors and a circular treadmill that returns the player to the center along with body and gun tracking gives the controls and freedom of movement. Also triggering a group of paintable guns at the observer to give an added hint of reality under battle conditions. There isn't any company that can produce a battle simulator like this but with £650,000 and with a bit of know how it is possible to remake a battle simulator that even a real soldier can find it difficult to find fault with from reality. The simulated room maybe centuries away from the holographic rooms of science fiction but the idea and possible technology could be useful today. Simulations can help a great deal to plan and
prepare for all types of environments and work practices. Entertainment for the future could be in the form of   simulation rooms, rather then sitting to watch something. Hopefully with this in mind there might be a healthy bright future after all.

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