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技术发展对人类未来的影响 发表评论(0) 编辑词条

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技术发展对人类未来的影响编辑本段回目录

技术的进展将为我们带来什么?也在就几年前,iPhone已具备大量优于台式机的强大性能。它拥有照相/摄影功能,能够存储日程安排与通讯录,可以玩游戏,有时还能用于打电话。

我们对科技的依赖已达到一种惊人程度。你曾因在国外或陌生城镇未携带智能手机而身陷困境吗?我们几乎不敢想象自己失去这些现代技术后能做些什么;正因如此,我们需随时携带这些设备。

对于游戏未来趋势,甚至未来科技发展及人们使用它们的方式而言,这种技术聚合现象意味着什么?

不可否认,Epic Games的Tim Sweeney对技术领域知之甚多。他除了擅长游戏编码,而且还广泛涉猎关于人类感知极限与技术融合本质的书籍。

在本次访问中,我们与他共同探讨了图画效果滞留的可能性,虚幻引擎4的作用,以及当技术充斥我们周遭,甚至融入生活中时将会是何种局面。

Tim-Sweeney(from indievault.it)

Tim-Sweeney(from indievault.it)

我曾在2008年写过一些东西,我想你会完全否认这些内容,我认为,就人们对粒子效果或照明技术的关注度来看,图像效果会呈现下降趋势,因为许多游戏似乎已经“足够出色”。

听说你对代码角度的图像进步很感兴趣,你认为这有利于用户体验吗?

答案是肯定。目前,我们仍认为图像技术的完善能够极大部分地改进游戏玩法。比如,目前能在环境中采用实时照明技术意味着可以构造/破坏一个完全动态的环境,并能准确达到灯光效果。由此可见,实现这个愿景所需的技术性能相当复杂,且价格高昂。

如果你能像《毁灭战士3》般提供实时照明,那么那些直接受光区域将为亮处,间接受光区域将为暗处。而采用实时间接照明技术需计算它们的反射光源,如今只有GPU可以实现这种可能性,其浮点数运算能力为每秒2.3-2.5万亿次。

即使你认为图像效果将有所下降,但我仍旧相信,图像创新能够极大提高我们实现制作全新游戏类型的能力。

我已经看过虚幻引擎4的演示样本,其性能相当出色。但我发现有趣的是,当某些方面越贴近现实,越无法引人注目,其中的原因是它所贴近的“现实物体”是我们十分熟悉的东西,而我们习惯神秘山谷情境。显然,我们应采取更加虚幻的背景,因为在我看来,某些方面的接近现实无法给人留下深刻印象。

我们不一定要模拟现实世界,因为现实相当枯燥,对吧?然而在游戏中采用现实特征的模拟元素是轻而易举之事。但设置梦幻环境与虚幻角色才是引擎的主要职责,它不仅要制作出逼真画面,而且应支持美工和设计师不断调整某些内容,创造出具有独特外观与效果的游戏,而这种独特版本能够吸引玩家沉浸其中。

unreal 4 demo(from gamasutra)

unreal 4 demo(from gamasutra)

你正致力于利用虚幻引擎4解决许多新问题(游戏邦注:包括间接照明,更高效动态的粒子效果等)。但对于那些先前尚未完全解决的问题,该怎么办?比如阴影缺口,无法呈现流动效果的动态纹理等方面。

当然,我们会不断改进每一代引擎。删除你所见到的种种瑕疵,但我们仍无法完全避免这些漏洞。虚幻引擎1中存在的阴影缺口有3尺宽,经过改善,现在只剩下几英寸。这已是个不错成绩,但除非它们小于1mm,否则你仍会注意到这些伪影。事实上,要完全解决这些问题需要具备强大性能的引擎。我想我们正慢慢朝着这个正确方向发展。

此外,该引擎还有助于解决其它问题。比如光学媒体中的纹理流动。在体验DVD版《战争机器》时,有时你会见到纹理突然显现,因为DVD需在一秒内转动4-5次才能下载纹理。如果纹理以更快速度跃入眼帘,那么图像就会曲扭。而当前固态存储技术与闪存可以将纹理延迟率降低1万倍。

这真是个了不起的成就。

没错,它很强大!它可以大大删除那些瑕疵。我们对每一代引擎都进行多方面完善,但在模拟现实世界上我们应继续努力。这好比是你利用建筑设计工具与工程分析创建游戏关卡,当游戏结构遭遇一定的压力时,它的墙体就会崩塌。关卡设计师并不仅仅是创意人士,他们还得是结构工程师。而要在这些领域取得突出性进展仍具有相当大的难度。

另外,我发现有趣的是,在完全可破坏的环境中,如果你把所有东西都炸了,游戏就只是一个空荡荡的平面。

(笑)那你是打算完全摧毁整个游戏世界吗?

是的,也许是种反英雄情结,或者是因为我只爱《Earth Defense Force》这种作品。

那么下一代主机设备将会取得巨大成功,而且我们将有望见证这一过程。但我好奇的是,主机会成为未来的可行平台吗?似乎PC仍在不断进展,并推动图像不断革新,移动设备也以迅猛之势问世。显然,《无尽之剑:地下城》将是一款适合在iPad上运行的《暗黑破坏神》式作品。也许此时你并不需要主机。但你认为图像创新会在哪些平台奏效?

Infinity Blade Dungeons(from gamasutra)

Infinity Blade:Dungeons(from gamasutra)

目前,平台发展越发有趣,但相应玩家不会有多大变动。现在仍有硬核玩家希望每次可以在游戏中沉浸2-3小时,iPad并不适合这种玩法,它尺寸较小,无法提供足够大的观察窗,且无法营造立体声效。

但我认为你已指出核心问题,随着我们完善各个平台的图像质量,iPad、主机或PC上的游戏类型仍会突显差异。

当然,《无尽之剑:地下城》是基于玩家利用iPhone体验游戏的方式,改编自《暗黑破坏神》的作品;该作支持几分钟的游戏时间,且不必持久性沉浸其中便能体会到乐趣,它也不属于巨大开发项目(游戏邦注:相较于6-7年的开发时间,它仅需9个月左右的时间)。

因此其目标群体与规模有别于《暗黑破坏神》,我从来没有想象过诸如《战争机器》或《魔兽世界》核心体验的消失会是何种境况。我认为主机的基本功能仅仅是方便你在沙发上利用电视体验游戏进程的机制。这与在电脑前体验游戏完全不同:有优势也有劣势。

没错。我只是好奇,随着技术逐渐整合,苹果TV或微软Surface这种能够提供主机体验模式的设备该何去何从?我并不是挑起事端,只是这让我觉得现在已经是最后一代主机。当然,我希望,也相信仍存在主机玩家,只是其中有许多会转向PC平台。

毫无疑问,主机玩家会逐渐消失;问题是,他们会转向其它平台吗?这个疑问合情合理,但是主机仍能提供沉浸式体验之感。同比在明亮的房间中坐在电脑前操控鼠标,前者的体验模式更具沉浸感。也许我们将目睹这种体验模式的消逝,但我认为目前大量针对主机开发的游戏在PC上也相当重要。毕竟大多数在主机平台上发行游戏的公司同样会把作品推广到PC平台上,比如利用Steam这种服务设备(由于是在线服务,因此不必涉及零售商店)。总之,PC必然会成为新型生态系统中的一个成长力量。

对此我表示赞同。届时,在不同平台推出游戏将更加简单,而且你的团队成员正在努力实现这一愿景。到时,你可以将微软Surface或其它设备上的游戏输送到电视上,在出现技术聚合设备后,还有Xbox、PlayStation 3与PC这类需求吗?

虽然便携性十分重要,但聚合现象才是趋势。

没错,聚合现象正在发生,但却是断断续续势头,而且相关理念通常无法奏效。此外,iPad、iPhone或是以后微软平板电脑的出色控制方式是指可以触摸屏幕上的图像,并与之互动;当你利用该设备向电视传送图像时,突然你会见到一个宽大平坦的鼠标式外观。相较游戏控制器,甚至PC上的鼠标与键盘,它并不出色。我认为你应在平台中融入更多元素,不单单是借用智能手机或平板电脑向电视发送信号;你应重点解决控制器问题。

那么最终结果将会怎样?我无从知晓。你是会购买苹果TV,游戏控制器,还是不含摇杆的主机设备?它们均能兼容来回输送视频的功能吗?对此,我也不得而知。技术领域尚存许多未解之谜,但在下一代主机设备问世后,你应认识到,这款高度优化的设备将完美兼容游戏体验。

其它想法也有实现的可能性,但基本上无法达到完善的可用模式。我想我们也许会有另一代可靠的主机设备问世。而之后情况便不得而知。也许你会随处携带这台显示设备,而电视、电脑、显示器与iPhone屏幕则都会消失在你的记忆中。

听说你研究过人类视觉范围的极限。之前我们已探讨过(并略有解释)技术将不断扩展,并成为人类身体的一部分;它将充斥你的周遭,随处可见,比如手势、照相等方面。你曾经思考过,当人类的所有时间都被淹没在屏幕与声波中时,这会对他们的身体带来什么后果吗?

这是个难题。由于目前我们的周围充斥大量单独显示设备,而且其中大多数均相当劣质,因此我认为这里会出现一个简化趋势。使用iPad是一个出色体验;但Windows XP系统电脑则是缓慢沉重的体验;而在使用汽车导航系统时,我不得不说General Motors的这项设备十分糟糕。我希望单个显示设备逐渐消失,取而代之的是全球热门且可随处携带的显示器,因为它比那些单独体验更加出色。

但是与此同时,你可能会被迫接受许多广告轰炸。

在我看来,没有人可以容忍这种设备。如果谷歌向你兜售随时会在你脸上弹出广告的眼镜,那真该让他们去死。

The-future-Gadgets-Google-Glass(from techfreakstuff4u.com)

The-future-Gadgets-Google-Glass(from techfreakstuff4u.com)

可还是有人可以容忍这种事情,在通往台湾的飞机上,你便是坐在广告中;这是一种强制措施。在计程车上,司机也会设法向你兜售物品,但其实你已经付钱了!我预测会出现这种现象。

没错。这是个美丽新世界。

最近,我还阅读了大量关于Kurt Vonnegut的书籍。

如果你恐惧Facebook收集的信息,只要假想下如果有家公司主要时时报道你每日所见所闻的情况即可。

这听起来有点可怕。但我们十分好奇这种环境下的游戏模式。它会成为《Second Life》这种虚拟世界但却大受欢迎的产品吗,你在其中是个可以穿过太空,又可以漫步在真实世界中的超人?我并不清楚!

是的,我们会向这类游戏发展。另外,我们应认识到,如果你拥有一台可以穿在身上的设备,且游戏场景可以在此继续运作,那便不再需要显示器。你可以利用该设备将屋子的某个地方设计成一台电视,其运作方式及外观与真实电视如出一辙。你可以借此继续体验剩余进程。而要预测此外情况的唯一办法便是聘请100万个精英开发者尝试所有新创意,其中会有大量失败事例,也会找到可行方面。

我觉得,在硬核游戏中,虚拟控制器并不出众。可能Kinect上的硬核游戏可以实现,但精确度方面并不匹配。此时,我认为应使用完全匹配游戏玩法的无线控制器,因此当他想体验游戏时,他只需……

我同意这个看法。通常最棒的游戏控制器与最佳设备不仅可以感知动作,而且会提供相应的触觉反馈。这便是鼠标的令人满意之处;你只需移动手掌,由于手掌极具精确度,因此在移动过程中你会感觉到相应动作。

你希望大脑与这些设备建立高宽带连接。我认为不大可能。即使在触摸屏幕上你可以触摸任何物体,但你仍无法感觉到虚拟键盘的边缘。当你体验一款设有摇杆器的游戏时,你便没有任何触摸感应。可见这种做法十分糟糕。

如果你主要利用Kinect设备设置虚拟输入装置,从理论上可以实现,但如果你无法感觉到,只能证明这是失败做法。我并不清楚其最终结果。也许会引发触觉反馈的进展。理想上,你想要的是能够利用动态感觉传递力量的控制设备。我能够想象有个虚拟键盘可以通过类似机制传递出真实键盘之感,然而目前我们尚未开发这项技术。

虽然这听起来像是解决方案,但我仍有点恐惧。那些脉冲会对我带来什么影响?如果长期使用,会对我们的触感带来哪些变化?

其实,我也曾抱怨过手机辐射会摧毁人类大脑。这是个严肃问题;我经常在长时间通话后,觉得……

耳根发烫。

好像自己喝了一瓶啤酒之类的。确实会给身体带来负面影响。

之前我也有同样感受。其实你主要探讨设备方面,如果某天你淹没在各种设备中情形将会怎样?我们会发生基因突变吧。

从目前生活方式来看,我们确实会向这种情况发展。比如,典型iPhone用户看待世界的视角与操纵方式完全与常人大相径庭。在GPS时代,你不会迷路,而且由于可以在谷歌线上查找日常表,所以你不可能忘记事情。这将是个与众不同的世界。

在拜访其它国家时,我总会想起过去世界的点点滴滴,那时我买不起一部可以随处使用的智能手机。有时,当我用功能手机发短信时,我会触摸屏幕,试图移动光标,当然没有反应,因为这只是个普通屏幕。作为素食主义者,我必须四处寻找特殊餐馆,但我又不懂他们的语言;因此我必须记下路程指示,才能离开上网地方。然后盲目寻找。那时,我真正意识到自己对这种现代技术的依赖性。

没错,我们对技术的依赖已经相当疯狂。随着事物的快速演变,不久我们将不得不向孙子/孙女们解释什么是书籍!这是个严肃问题!(本文为游戏邦/gamerboom.com编译,作者:Brandon Sheffield)

The Future Human: An Interview with Tim Sweeney

December 28, 2012

by Brandon Sheffield

As technology evolves, how do we interact with it? An iPhone is far more powerful than your average desktop was just a few years ago. And it has a camera in it. And it’s got your schedule, and your contact list. And it has games. And, occasionally, it’s even a phone.

We rely on our technology to an incredible degree. Have you ever been caught without your smartphone in a foreign country, or an unfamiliar town? It’s almost existentially terrifying to realize how little we can do without our contemporary tech; that’s why we have it around us all the time.

What does this convergence mean, not just for the future of games, but the future of technology in general, and the way humans interact with it?

Epic Games’ Tim Sweeney knows a lot about tech, there’s no denying it. In addition to being one of the paragons of game code, he has also read extensively about the limits of human perception, and the nature of technological convergence.

In this extensive interview, we speak with him about the possibility of a graphics plateau, the promise of Unreal Engine 4, and what might happen if technology were all around you, all the time — even more integrated into your life than it is now.

Back in 2008 I wrote about something that I think you would totally disagree with — I felt we were starting to see diminishing returns on graphics, just in terms of whether people really cared about new particle effects or lighting, when “good enough” seems to work for many, in games like League of Legends that aim for compatibility over poly-pushing.

I know that you’re very interested graphical advances from a code perspective, and from a what-you-can-achieve perspective, but do you think that also pays dividends for the audience?

Tim Sweeney: Yes. We’re still at the point where improvements in graphics technology are enabling major improvements in gameplay. Just the ability to do real-time lighting on environments now means you can construct a completely dynamic environment — or destruct a completely dynamic environment — and have all of the lighting respond accurately. It turns out that the technical features you need for that are really elaborate and expensive.

If you have your own support for real-time lighting like Doom 3 had, then all of your areas that are directly hit by light are bright, and all of the areas that aren’t directly hit by light are completely black. So you need real-time indirect lighting, which means calculating two bounces of light on them, and so on, which really is only becoming possible now with today’s GPUs, that are 2.3 to 2-and-a-half teraflops.

Even if your thesis is that we’re getting diminishing returns on graphical effects, I think we’re still at the point where making graphics innovations greatly improves our capability of implementing new kinds of games.

I saw the Unreal 4 demo, and it’s very good-looking. But the thing that I found interesting, at least framed by what you’re talking about, is that in a certain respect the closer you get to reality, the less impressive it is in a way, because as it gets closer to a “real thing,” I know what real things look like, and we get into an uncanny valley situation. Obviously, we do this in a more fantastical setting, but that move toward reality to me almost seems like it’s going to, at a certain point, start being less impressive.

TS: We don’t necessarily want to simulate reality because reality is pretty boring, right? (laughs) Simulate realistic characters in a game, and they’re probably just sitting around sending their friends stupid messages on Twitter. You want fantastical environments and fantastical characters, and that’s really the big job of an engine — it’s not just to enable graphical realism but also to give our artists and designers the capability to really tweak things to create a custom look and feel for the game, and a custom enhanced version of reality that they can play around with consistently.

You’re trying to solve a lot of new problems with UE4 — indirect lighting, more efficient and dynamic particle effects, and that sort of thing. But what about some of the legacy problems that are still not totally solved, like shadows that are jaggy everywhere, and dynamic texture loading so that it doesn’t have a pop effect; these sorts of things?

TS: Well, each generation, we improve. We greatly reduce the flaws that you see, but we’re still far from having enough hardware performance to completely eliminate them. The jaggies in shadows in Unreal Engine 1 were 3 feet wide, and now they’re just a few inches wide. And that’s great, but until they’re much smaller than a millimeter you’ll still notice those artifacts.

Really, the amount of performance you need to solve this completely is immense. I think we’re just slowly moving in the right direction there.

The technology is solving other problems. For example, texture streaming has been a huge challenge given optical media. When you’re playing Gears of War off a DVD, sometimes you see textures popping in just because we can only move the DVD head four or five times a second in order to load the textures in. If textures are coming into view at a faster rate, then you’re screwed. If you look at what’s possible now with solid state disk technology and flash memory storage, you have a factor of 10,000 less latency.

It’s pretty significant.

TS: Oh, yeah! It’s gigantic! It’s able to greatly, greatly reduce some of those flaws. Every generation we’re improving a lot of things, but we’re still a long way from being able to simulate reality. For a long time, the Holy Grail was completely destructible environments; that means you basically have to build your game levels using architectural tools and engineering analysis so that, when the right amount of force is applied to your wall, it breaks. Then your level designers aren’t just creative folks; they’re structural engineers. There are significant barriers to a lot of advancements in those areas.

The thing I find funny about completely destructible environments is that any game could just become a flat plane at a certain point if you just blow everything up.

TS: (Laughs) You want to be able to completely destroy the world?

Yes — some sort of antihero complex, probably, or maybe I just like playing Earth Defense Force.

So the next generation of consoles is going to have whatever success it has, and we’ll see how that works out. But I want to ask in advance, do you see console as a viable future platform?

Because it seems to me that PC is going to continue to evolve and push forward in terms of graphical advances — and mobile is coming up so fast. Obviously, with Infinity Blade Dungeons, that’s a proper Diablo-style game on an iPad. Maybe you’re not going to need a console at a certain point. When you’re pushing these graphical advances, where do you see them living?

TS: The platform equation is getting a lot more interesting nowadays, but gamers aren’t changing that much. There are still hardcore gamers who want to play games where you sit down and have a very immersive experience for two or three hours at a time, and the iPad just isn’t a good device for that. It’s too small. It’s not enough of a viewing window, and the sound isn’t moving around you.

But I think you’re seeing at the core, as we improve graphics on all platforms, there’s still going to be a difference for the sort of game you design for iPad versus console or PC.

Certainly Infinity Blade: Dungeons is based on re-envisioning the Diablo-style game around the sort of experience you want when you’re sitting there with your iPhone; a game which you can play for a few minutes at a time if you want, a game that doesn’t require the deep and lasting commitment to have some fun a little bit at a time, and a game that’s not as huge — a project that’s being developed over the course of about nine months as compared to six or seven years.

So it’s a very different scope and scale, and I don’t envision the core experience that you have playing a game like Gears of War or World of Warcraft going away. I think consoles are basically just a mechanism for playing games on your TV when you want to sit back on your couch and have an awesome game experience. That’s very different from sitting at your computer: better in some ways and worse in some ways.

Right. I just wonder, as these things do appear to be converging, what about an Apple TV or a Microsoft Surface kind of situation where you essentially have that console experience there if you want? I’m not trying to bait you or anything, but I feel like this is the last console generation. I do believe console gamers will still exist — I hope they will, but I feel like they’ll wind up moving to PC.

TS: There is no question of whether gamers are going away; the question is, do they move to different platforms? There’s some plausibility in that, but the console is a very immersive way to play games. They’re more immersive than sitting in a chair in front of your computer with a mouse in a bright room. I have a hard time seeing that experience going away, but I think a lot of these games that are being developed now exclusively for console are going to become more important also on the PC. Most of the companies shipping games on console are also shipping them on the PC — and doing extraordinarily well, especially through services like Steam, where it’s all online and there’s no hassle of going into a retail store. So certainly the PC will be a growing part of the new ecosystem.

That’s kind of the thing for me. It will become so much easier to port things to different platforms, and you guys are trying very hard to make that happen. In that universe where, say, you could stream something from your Microsoft Surface or whatever to your TV, does there need to be an Xbox and PlayStation 3 and a PC when things seem to all be converging to one point?

Portability is important, but convergence is also happening.

TS: Yeah, the convergence is happening, but it comes in fits and starts, and often ideas don’t completely work. Also, the thing that’s awesome about the controls on an iPad or an iPhone or maybe a future Microsoft tablet is the fact that you have this screen that displays images and you’re able to touch it and interact with that image; when you take that device and broadcast that image to the TV, then suddenly you just have a big, flat mouse-like surface. It’s not a very compelling control device compared to a game controller, or even mouse and keyboard on the PC. I think you need more to the equation than just a smartphone or tablet beaming a signal to a TV; the controls are a problem there.

So what happens there eventually? I don’t know. Are you going to have an Apple TV or a game controller or a console that won’t have a game controller? Will all these devices have compatibility in terms of transferring video back and forth? I don’t know. There are a lot of unanswered questions, but when the next generation of consoles comes out, you know that they’re going to be highly polished devices that will work perfectly for playing games.

A lot of the other ideas that are being thrown around have potential, but are not anywhere near being a finished, polished, usable format. I think you have another solid generation of consoles coming out ahead. After that, who knows? Maybe you’ll be wearing your display device around with you everywhere you go and your TV, computer, monitor, and iPhone screen have vanished because it’s all mounted to your head.

I know you’ve done some research into the limits of what humans can see graphically. We were talking earlier about this idea that, to paraphrase a bit, technology will become an extension of yourself and your body; it will be all around you, happening everywhere in your world, with gestures and cameras and whatnot. Have you thought at all about the ramifications of that on the human body, being inundated with all of these screens and waves and things all of the time?

TS: It’s hard to say. I think it’s a simplification in a lot of ways, because I think right now we are surrounded by a whole lot of separate display devices, and most of them are really crappy. When I’m at my iPad, that’s an awesome experience; but then I go to my Windows XP-based computer, and that’s a pretty slow and clunky experience; and then I go to my car’s navigation system — I’m sorry, but General Motors makes lousy navigation systems. I like the idea of all of those disparate display devices just going away and being replaced with this pervasive display overlaid on top of the world that’s with you everywhere. It really enables a much greater degree of polish than all of these separate experiences.

But it also enables you to be advertised to against your will, potentially.

TS: I don’t think anybody would ever put up with a device like that. If Google tries to sell you these glasses that are always popping up ads in your face, they can go to hell!

But people do kind of put up with it. On the plane over here to Taiwan, you have to sit through some advertisements; they’re mandatory. Or, in a cab, they’re trying to sell you stuff, but you already paid money! I could foresee it happening.

TS: You’re right. It’s a brave new world.

I’ve been reading lots of Kurt Vonnegut lately, too, so…

TS: If you’re scared about the information Facebook collects, for example, then just imagine what happens when there’s a company that’s basically beaming a live feed of what you see all day, every day, and all of your daily interactions.

Absolutely. It’s kind of horrifying. But, yeah, it is interesting to think about what a game would be in that kind of environment. Does it become a Second Life kind of thing but finally done well, where you are a superhero flying through this universe and you’re actually moving around in the real world? I don’t know!

TS: Yeah, we could totally go into those sorts of games. Another neat thing is the realization that, if you have a device like that that you are always wearing, then any game scenario continues to work, but you don’t need a display to make it work. You could use that device to project a TV to a particular place in your house, and it would work and look just like a real TV. So you could continue to use it in legacy scenarios. Going beyond that, it’s impossible to predict. The only way to figure that out is to have a million smart developers each out trying new ideas, most of them failing, but finding a few things that work.

I feel like, for core games, the idea of a virtual controller is not that compelling. A core Kinect game is maybe possible, but the precision required is not really there. But in that kind of a scenario, I just have this vision of a dude that has a wireless controller that’s snapped to his belt, so if he wants to play something he can just…

TS: I agree. The best game controllers and best devices in general don’t only sense your motion, but also provide tactile feedback in response to your motion. That’s why a mouse is so satisfying; you’re moving your hand, and your hand has an enormous amount of precision, so as you move your hand you’re also feeling the motion.

You want to see a high-bandwidth connection between your brain and the device. That just doesn’t exist. Even with a touchscreen, you have this great ability to touch what’s on the screen, but you can’t feel key boundaries on your virtual keyboard. When you have a game that has a little joystick controller on-screen, you don’t have any touch response there. Those are lousy.

If all you’re doing with a Kinect-type of device is putting in some virtual input device, it theoretically works just as well, but if you can’t feel it then it’s just going to fail. I don’t know what the ultimate answer to that is. Maybe there will be some advances in tactile feedback. Ideally, you want a touch device that can impart a force on you with some sort of dynamic feel. I can imagine a virtual keyboard having the feel of a keyboard through some sort of mechanism like that, but that’s been largely unexplored so far.

While that does seem like it would be the solution, again, it’s a little scary to me. What are those impulses going to do to me? How are they going to alter my sense of touch in general, using them long-term?

TS: Yeah. I have the same complaint with cell phones that fry your brain. That’s a real problem; after I talk on my cellphone for a long period of time, I definitely feel some –

Your ear is hot.

TS: It feels a little like I drank a beer or something. It’s definitely doing something bad to you there.

That’s the kind of thing I was getting at before. You’re mostly talking about a unified device, but if the world has all of these things it can beam at you, what’s going to happen? We’re going to turn into mutants or something.

TS: Well, we’re already well along that path if you look at the way we live our lives. The typical person with an iPhone has a completely different view of what’s out there in the world and how to navigate through it. You can’t get lost anymore if you have a GPS, and you can’t forget anything because you can just look it up online on Google. It’s a different world.

I keep getting reminded of what the world used to be like when I come to other countries because I can’t afford a smartphone that will work everywhere. At one point, when I was sending a text message on a feature phone, I tried to touch the screen to move the cursor, and of course that doesn’t work because it’s just a screen. I have to go around looking for specific restaurants because I’m a vegetarian, but I don’t speak the language; so I have to write down instructions for myself and leave the place where my internet is. Then I’m just around with no backup. It’s really made me realize how reliant on this technology I am.

TS: Yeah, it’s crazy. At the rate things are advancing, we’re going to have to explain to our grandkids what a book was! I mean that seriously!(source:gamasutra)


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