ECE1766 = Personal Cybernetics, Mediated Reality, and Personal Imaging

Personal Cybernetics ECE1766 (ECE1766F) is aimed at first year graduate students and 4th year undergraduates as a fourth year elective. The classes are comprised of one lecture a week during the Fall term. The class is only taught in the Fall term (lectures for this year's ECE1766 class begin in September of 1999)

starting date: tues. september 21, 1999
lecture times: tuesdays 3pm to 6pm
location = wallberg building, room 342
(third floor of wallberg is connected to second floor of sandford fleming)

Check this website /wearcam/ece1766.htm for more info, and for online course textbook, etc., to be posted shortly


The course provides the student with the fundamental knowledge needed in the rapidly growing field of Personal Cybernetics (often referred to colloquially as "Wearable Computing", "Personal Technologies", "Mobile Multimedia", etc...). Rather than trying to address all aspects of this rapidly growing field, the course places a particular emphasis on Personal Imaging.

Personal Imaging is the branch of Personal Cybernetics that focuses on what will become the most important visual aspects of truly personal computation and communication. Very quickly we are witnessing a merging of communications devices (such as portable telephones) with computational devices (personal organizers, personal computers, etc.). Although these devices embody a loose and fluffy notion of "mobile multimedia" or the like, the focus of this course is on the specific and fundamental aspects of visual interfaces that will have greatest relevence in the next millenium, namely the notion of a computationally mediated reality.

A computationally mediated visual reality is a natural extension of next-generation computing. In particular, we have witnessed a pivotal shift from mainframe computers to personal/personalizable computers owned and operated by individual end users. We have also witnessed a fundamental change in the nature of computing from large mathematical "batch jobs", to the use of computers as a communications medium. The explosive growth of the Internet, and more recently, the World Wide Web, is a harbinger of what will evolve into a completely computer-mediated world in which all aspects of life will be online and connected.

This transformation in the way we think and communicate will not be the result of so-called ubiquitous computing (microprocessors in everything around us). Instead of the current vision of "smart floors", "smart lightswitches", and "smart toilets" that watch us and respond to our actions, what we will witness is the emergence of "smart people" - augmentation of the intellect through Personal Cybernetics.

And this will be done, not by implanting devices into the brain, but, rather, simply by non-invasively "tapping" the highest bandwidth "pipe" into the brain, namely the eye. This so-called "eye tap" forms the basis for devices that are currently built into eyeglasses (prototypes are also being built into contact lenses) to tap into the mind's eye.

Eye Tap technology causes inanimate objects to suddently come to life as nodes on a virtual computer network. For example, while walking past an old building, the building may come to life with hyperlinks on its surface, even though the building is not wired for network connections in any way. These hyperlinks are merely a shared imagined reality that wearers of the Eye Tap technology simultaneously experience. When entering a grocery store, a milk carton may come to life, with a unique message from a spouse, reminding the wearer of the Eye Tap technology to pick up some milk on the way home from work.

Eye Tap technology is not merely about a computer screen inside eyeglasses, but, rather, it's about enabling what is, in effect, a shared telepathic experience connecting multiple individuals together in a collective consciousness.

Eye Tap technology will have many commercial applications, and emerge as one of the most industrially relevant forms of communications technology. The WearTel (TM) phone, for example, uses Eye Tap technology to allow individuals to see each other's point of view. Traditional videoconferencing merely provides a picture of the other person. But most of the time we call people we already know, so it is far more useful for use to exchange points of view. Therefore, the miniature laser light source inside the WearTel eyeglass-based phone scans across the retinas of both parties and swaps the image information, so that each person sees what the other person is looking at. The WearTel phone, in effect, let's someone "be you", rather than just "see you". By letting others put themselves in your shoes and see the world from your point of view, a very powerful communications medium results.

Of course once the eye is tapped (whether by a handheld device like WearTel (TM), or by Eye Tap eyeglasses or contact lenses), there is the very existential fact that one becomes a camera. In this way, we will be able to have personal documentaries of large portions of our lives, shot from a first-person perspective. Turning the eye itself into a camera will radically change the way pictures are taken, memories are kept, and events are documented. (See for example, the Electronic News Gathering wear project: http://engwear.org)

Organization of the textbook

The textbook is organized as follows:
  1. Personal Cybernetics: The first chapter introduces the general ideas of ``Wearable Computing'', personal technologies, etc.
  2. Personal Imaging: (cameras getting smaller and easier to carry), wearing the camera (the instructor's fully functioning XF86 GNUX wristwatch videoconferencing system); wearing the camera in an "always ready" state
  3. Mediated Reality: Altering the visual perception of reality
  4. The EyeTap Principle: Eye am a camera:
  5. Photoquantigraphic Imaging - lightspace aspect. of magritte, e.g. picture of picture same as picture
  6. Lightspace - multidimensional photoquanta. - application of personal imaging: dusting
  7. VideoOrbits - algebraic projective geometry

Lecture schedule


Additional Information Needed for the Course Will Appear Below