19sep2005 - First Assignment

I've had this idea brewing in the back of my mind for the past few years, having been an architecture student and seeing the tremendous waste that is a by-product of the physical productivity of design studios. What if electronic ink were implemented in such a way that the 'un-printed' substrate were optically clear enough that the device could be three dimensional? The 'printed' state would have to be opaque, to cast good shadows, so that the result would appear to be a physical model encased in ice. It could be composed of planar layers of conventionally controlled electronic ink (is there such a thing as conventional electronic ink, yet?), or perhaps composed as a solid block, and controlled through something like aimed electromagnetic impulses. A user interface consisting of three dials could then be used to 'move' the (virtual) object around, inside the block.
26sep2005 - First Assignment

I have created a model that implements my final project idea as a peripheral device that can be connected to a computer, for uploading of images. The device would have similar characteristics to most electronic ink concepts - specifically, it does not emit light (it relies on an external light source), and does not require/consume power, except to change the image.

As an aside, this does seem to suggest replacing present problems with display technologies with entirely new but possibly just as daunting ones. The most significant problem driving the conception of this idea was the inability of existing virtual environments to efficiently produce working models. Important, here, is the issue of accessibility / portability, etc... As far as existing virtual environments are concerned, I do find the stereoscopic CAVE (i.e. as implemented at the Cornell Theory Center), with sonar rangefinding based user head tracking, to be quite effective for the purposes of investigating complicated computationally produced three dimensional diagrams. However, these devices are relatively inaccessible. In terms of accessible devices, display technologies are most restricted, for these purposes, by the problem of luminance contrast, where the natural environment provides 1/100, and the very best display technologies provide 1/30 (greatly reduced depth information, even with the best shaded renders).

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