Immersive and Oceanic

By now you’ve no doubt seen Hyper-Reality, the new short film produced by visualization wunderkind Keiichi Matsuda, whose early video experiments, produced while still a student at the Bartlett School of Architecture, I posted about here a long while back.

As you can see in the embedded video, above, Matsuda’s film is a POV exploration of information overload, identity gamification, and the mass burial of public space beneath impenetrable curtains of privately relevant, interactive marketing data, all cranked up to the level of cacophony; when it all shuts off at one point, leaving viewers stranded in a nearly silent, everyday supermarket, the effect is almost therapeutic, an intensely relieving escape back to cognition free from popup ads.

[Image: From Hyper-Reality by Keiichi Matsuda].

I was reminded of Matsuda’s film, however, by the recent news that so-called heads-up displays, or HUDs, are coming to an underwater experience near you: the U.S. Navy has developed an augmented reality helmet for undersea missions.

This unique system enables divers to have real-time visual display of everything from sector sonar (real-time topside view of the diver’s location and dive site), text messages, diagrams, photographs and even augmented reality videos. Having real-time operational data enables them to be more effective and safe in their missions—providing expanded situational awareness and increased accuracy in navigating to a target such as a ship, downed aircraft, or other objects of interest.

Wandering among enemy seamounts, swimming through immersive 3-dimensional visualizations of currents and tides, watching instructional videos for how to infiltrate an adversary’s port defenses, the U.S. Navy attack crews of the near-future will be like characters in an aquatic Hyper-Reality, negotiating drop-down menus and the threat of moray eels simultaneously.

[Image: From Hyper-Reality by Keiichi Matsuda].

This raises the question of how future landscape architects, given undersea terrains as a possible target of design, might use augmented reality on the seabed.

Recall the preservation program underway today in the Baltic Sea, whereby historically valuable shipwrecks are being given interpretive signage to remind people—that is, possible looters—that what they are seeing down there is not mere debris. They are, in effect, swimming amidst an open-water museum, a gallery of the lost and sunken.

So here’s to someone visualizing the augmented reality underwater shipwreck museum of tomorrow, narratives of immersive data gone oceanic.

Garage Warfare

Going back through dozens and dozens of links saved over the past few months, I rediscovered two quick news items I thought I’d post together, both of which involve automatic garage doors.

1) The U.S. Navy has been using a radio signal that seems to interfere with garage door openers in suburban Connecticut:

U.S. Navy officials have acknowledged on Monday that a radio signal being transmitted out of the Groton Submarine Base is likely the cause behind the residents’ garage-door woes. The signal is part of the Enterprise Land Mobile Radio (ELMR) system, which is used by the military to coordinate responses with civil emergency workers, said Chris Zendan, a spokesman for the submarine base in Groton.

In short, it seems that frequencies used by remote-control garage door openers overlap with signals put back into service after 9/11 for communicating during civil emergencies.

However, putting this into the context of several recent articles about the accelerating pace of “cyber-attacks” on U.S. infrastructure—that is, “the pace at which America’s electricity grids, water supplies, computer and cellphone networks and other infrastructure are coming under attack,” in the words of the New York Times—as well as news that New York City’s elevators and boilers are now seen as potential targets for cyberwarfare (hackers “could increase the speed of how elevators go up or down,” perhaps crashing them to the bottom of the shaft), the idea of garage doors being hacked by radio signals emanating from the ocean by belligerent foreign powers takes on the air of, say, Red Dawn as remade by Bob Vila. Or it could be the plot of a bizarre future heist film: a sleepy coastal town in Oregon, its every house and building, robbed by submarine.

Just two weeks ago, meanwhile, over-heated headlines proclaimed that “Chinese hackers have control of U.S. power grid,” but perhaps we can imagine, instead, a far less threatening scenario, in which Chinese hackers manage to take control of every garage door in a small town in southern Georgia. Indescribably ignorant politicians proclaim it the work of Satan—but it’s just distant teenage poltergeists, high-fiving each other over cans of Diet Coke and trapping families in their 4-car garages.

2) Former professional wrestler Hulk Hogan had back surgery a while back—and the resulting spinal implant has given him the power to open garage doors from afar. In an otherwise idiotic article that explains how “Hulk Hogan Has Battery Powered Back,” one of the wrestler’s friends jokes that, “When he’s walking down a small neighborhood [sic] he opens every garage door on the street!” Talk about the prosthetic imaginary.

[Image: If Hulk Hogan pushes real hard, his garage door opens].

Next year’s headline: Chinese hackers in control of Hulk Hogan’s back open every garage door in Connecticut.