In 1838 Wheatstone Opened Eyes To The Physiology Of Vision…


My friend Gregg Favalora, principal at Optics for Hire in Arlington, MA posted a thread on the linkedIn Non-Glasses 3D Display Technology group about how amazing it was that Sir Charles Wheatstone “started our field with just one sentence in 1838”.  This really got me thinking…

Creating 3D illusions and the study of the physiology of vision has been going on for at least 173 years within the scientific community. Present a slightly different perspective of something to each eye and bada bing it can be perceived with spatial information. Even if those two perspectives are imaged on flat surfaces (drawings or photographs) depth is perceived. That was a pretty cool observation in 1838.

While the physiology of vision is indeed fascinating, I am much more intrigued by what the brain is doing with the information that is provided to it. I think it is time to move on from the thinking of the nineteenth century and the obcession with physiology. 

Did you know that other senses (like feeling heat or hearing certain sounds for example) play a role in what people characterize as vision–or have some effect with regards to what is perceived visually. Blind people see things with their mind. Some people see words and letters with color (synesthesia) and some people see little color. Some of this is physiology but the part that is purely brain processing provides new scientific pathways to explore in the 21st century.

The Star Trek oil filter visor worn by the character Geordi La Forge may one day be a reality that offers a completely new way to see and perceive the world. (it probably won’t be made from an oil filter though…)

What if we could perceive sound visually? Or “see” the wind? What would expanding or compressing our visual abilities with regards to color, luminance and spatial components do or offer?

There is much to do and accomplish in our lifetime. Wheatstone set the bar pretty high, but we should all strive to set it higher! There is much to learn. And guess what? I’m still trying to perfect AMPED 3D photography well over 100 years after 3D photography was invented! The whole 3D industry still has a very long way to go before we deserve the word “perfection” used to describe what is the present state-of-the-art. I, for one, don’t believe we will get there until we have a greater understanding of the role the brain plays in seeing the space between things.

What do you think?

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