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I could be WAY out of line in the placement of this question, but here goes:

Everyone I'm sure has heard of the Oculus Rift or any of the several other VR headsets making their way around.

It reminded me of a friend who, when in art school, said, "Dali's eyes were crooked [whatever the opposite of crossed is], and it may have helped him develop a different sense of perspective, and we have been taught to practice letting our eyes go relaxed to recreate similar effects."

I don't know if he did it, and I never saw a representation. But now I am interested...

If an Oculus used a model with eyes pointing different directions...or on the "sides of the head" with a wider field of view like many non-predatory animals...

What would we see?

(And maybe if it's an interesting answer... a VR Dali or VR cow simulator might be in order...)

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  • $\begingroup$ Your question is not very clear. What exactly are you asking? Are you asking how our brains would process split imagery (i.e., VR with vision for one eye pointing one way and the image for the other eye pointing another way)?? $\endgroup$ – theforestecologist Feb 28 '17 at 14:35
  • $\begingroup$ I think the question is whether we can simulate for humans what we would see if our eyes were on the sides of our heads, as is found in many animals. $\endgroup$ – canadianer Feb 28 '17 at 19:31
  • $\begingroup$ Yes to canadianer. A creature's sense of the world is certainly informed by the way it senses the world. Predators have eyes similar to ours, forward facing, focused, sharp. Many prey animals have eyes with wide fields of view, ostensibly for defensive purposes, sensing the most of what is around, if not in the tight focus of a predator. So, what might that look like for them, and us if simulated. It is one of those things that is hard to imagine because we have simply never experienced it. We focus tightly, not a wide field like a sentry. Like Dali, how would that affect perspective? $\endgroup$ – Mark Feb 28 '17 at 23:12
  • $\begingroup$ I might have to try this, since I have one and can program for it. Will report back if I get around to it. $\endgroup$ – jzx Mar 1 '17 at 10:03
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It would probably be quite disorienting, maybe even make you sick.

There is a much more limited fun classroom demo that my institution uses with kids, where they wear goggles that shift their view a couple degrees to the left (this demo is quite common, you can find many examples on YouTube as well). They stand a couple meters from a wall and throw a ball at a target: inevitably, they miss wide right for the first few throws, but eventually they adapt and hit the target no problem; then when they remove the goggles, they miss again to the left.

So, your visual system can adapt to some shifts in visual field. However, if the view was very skewed, oriented for example like the eyes of cattle, on the sides of the head, it would be much more difficult to adapt to where it feels natural. I would expect the strategy people would use would be to attend to only one visual field or the other, since there is no longer any binocular area of vision, sort of like if you would look as far to the right as you possibly can you see a lot of visual space with only one eye.

An important element to immersive VR is that you feel like you are actually having the experience - in VR when you have some sort of joystick or controller to manipulate, for example, it is really helpful to orient people by allowing them to see the controller in virtual space. Providing the eyes with very unusual inputs is going to make it much harder to maintain the illusion.

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  • $\begingroup$ Interesting... I wonder how this 'prism adaptation' (correct term?), would work if, instead of off a couple of degrees, each eye is straight ahead, instead of toward a focal point? That would approximate the 'Dali' example I mentioned. Or... if there was even a wider disparity so a view of, say, a cube, was rather cubist...like almost seeing the same face from two different perspectives? $\endgroup$ – Mark Feb 28 '17 at 23:17
  • $\begingroup$ @Mark The straight ahead situation you describe would be pretty hard to create, because the eyes themselves move. I suppose you could, with sufficiently responsive electronics, position the screen image such that the independent movements of the eyes are discarded. For the wider disparity, I am having a bit of trouble wrapping my head around that one but I suspect you would simply perceive things as being smaller and closer to you: disparity cues are one of the depth cues. There might be some confusion because other cues would be violated (like the expectations of particular object sizes). $\endgroup$ – Bryan Krause Feb 28 '17 at 23:21
  • $\begingroup$ @Mark For example consider the Wikipedia article on Binocular Disparity to think about what I said about disparity. $\endgroup$ – Bryan Krause Feb 28 '17 at 23:22
  • $\begingroup$ interesting. Thank you. Yeah, "having trouble wrapping [one's] head around" is exactly why I am curious. I wonder if, as a 'game' perhaps, one emulated a bovine perspective...if appropriate goals or feedback would increase immersion/minimize disorientation? Say, 'sensing'/detecting movement (of a predator), and responding or 'locating'? Or something similar that might function like holding a controller and having it on screen to orient oneself, something that pushes one to make 'functional' sense of the perspective... Thanks! $\endgroup$ – Mark Feb 28 '17 at 23:30

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