Virtual Reality and new paradigms of communication

Written on November 8, 2012 by Vanessa Dezem Baida in News

“Do you think we here are sharing the same reality? No? Each brain creates unique and subjective reality”.

These are the first words of a speech given by the neuroscientist Mr.  Naotaka Fujii about the SR-System, the  substitutional reality system. In his speech, the audience gets surprised when he shows the new technology that allows people to see two realities at the same time, without realizing the time gap between them.
The system is designed to study the perception of live reality and virtual reality and  can manipulate human’s cognition. All participants successfully cognized that the virtual reality (recorded scene by a panoramic camera) is the same as reality (in which they physically exist). They could see the past and the present together.
To better understand this innovation and in which way it can change the development of entertainment and communication, Masaaki Hasegawa, IE student from the Master in Visual Media Communication has interviewed Mr Fujii.
Follow bellow the interesting and shaking interview.
Naotaka Fujii is an ophthalmologist, neuroscientist and laboratory head at RIKEN’s Brain Science Institute. He developed a Substitutional Reality System device.
1965 – Born in Hiroshima, Japan
1991 – B.A of Medical College at Tohoku University, in Japan
1997 – Ph.D at same university
1998 – Senior fellow at McGovern Institute Graybiel Lab, at MIT
2004 – Riken Brain Science Institute
2008 – Adaptive Inteligence Team Leader, at Riken Brain Science Institute.
M:What is the potential possibility the SR-System has?
F: Regarding with the entertainment, it is deceiving. In the past, we have tried to make people world experience by adding information, to create the world we can manipulate, but it failed because people could not accept those added information. We tend to think that we handle with all the visual information. However, we actually ignore huge amount of information due to our capacity. Then, we altered the way (of the studies) to make substitutional reality that is decreasing the amount of visual information to create the space, and putting another information there. By this way, people can accept the world projected by SR-S as a real.
In the world created by SR-S, you can feel comfortable, probably because the amount of information your brain needs to handle with is less than in reality. Once you come back from there, you would feel that this world is vivid . The current SR-System adopts a panoramic view, from the view point of user, and it makes easy for us to create the substitutional reality. However, here is the other potential of the SR-System, as a means of entertainment,  that we would be able to enjoy 360 degree, like you can feel something happens behind you, once we could improve technology that allows people to use their five-senses in the substitutional world. It is more like creating the world.
Another point we are considering is to build a archive of experience. Using SR-System means that you experience the world created by it, consuming your own time. What we would like to do is gathering that experience as a archive and make it possible for people to share experience with others. For example, I am now thinking of trying to provide a situation in which people can encounter creative activities. Many artists, such as musician, do not want to be observed during their creative activity by others. But, SR-System would enable us to be with them and see the moment art is born, by recording their creative activity by video camera that would not interrupt their concentration. Another way to share experience is sharing meaningful moment in life. An interesting point is that SR-System allows us to combine the past and present and we can experience it at the same time that we would be able to join that experience. For example, you can record you wedding party and watch it with your children later, and your children will be able to take photo with your past. Like youtube, current technology allows us to share experience by watching it as video, but SR-System enable us to join that experience. That is why would like to build a platform that is the archive of experience to let people to share their experience.
M: It might be also interesting if you could add a function to that platform to count the number of people who experience your experience, like youtube tells us the number of viewers. We will be able to know what kind of experience people would want. 
Is it possible for us to share a certain experience with others at the same time? Like childhood memory, with old friends…
F: It’s possible, but we need to remember that we can only experience it from one viewpoint as we cannot see various things at the same time. You can enjoy it by experiencing the same experience from other’s view, and can realize things you missed. This ends up lowering the barrier between the substitutional reality and the reality. Thus, I would like people to use SR-System after they got an ability to recognize what is the reality and virtual.
M: Does it mean that we would cognize the virtual reality created by SR-System as real if we start using it before obtaining that ability? 
F: It can happen if we can recreate our body, senses, in the world created by SR-System, because what people rely on in order to distinguish difference between the reality and virtual is hands. I personally think that we should live in the reality, but as the value has changed people who grew up in the virtual reality can prefer to live in the virtual reality in the future.  It totally depends on ethics and moral. Actually, I am now executing an experiment with monkeys to realize the Madtrix, by putting electronic code into their brains. But it is much more difficult stimulating brain to react and feel certain way than what we do with SR-System now.  We can read the signal from brain, but create artificial feeling is really hard. At this moment, we can control their sense and feeling a little but it is far different from the real feeling. If we can achieve it, there won’t be big difference between the reality and dream.
M: In that case, you can enjoy it only for your own sake and it would be the case that you try to stay in the world artificially, where you can always feel comfortable. Once people start to use it only in the sense os realizing their preferable world, it seems difficult expand this technology to the world. 
F: It is like a discussion about abolishing to use vehicles to prevent mortal accidents. SR-System is just a platform of new communication, and the way of using totally depends on ethics and moral. Even I cannot expect how people will use this technology in the future. All I can say is SR-system will definitely be the platform of communication, and people won’t be able to live without it once it became a platform.


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