Human/Dolphin Virtual Reality World Concept

The Human/Dolphin Virtual Reality World Concept is a vision for the future where humans can communicate with dolphins in an interactive living environment. This project is a cooperative enterprise involving a group of scientific and artistic researchers who are applying the cutting edge of technology to a common goal: advancing human intelligence via communication with other advanced intelligence. Interspecies communication requires the development of new computer interfaces to facilitate the flow of information from one species to another.

Further research with these interfaces can be integrated into medical rehabilitation facilities to enable severely disabled individuals to interact in artificial environments. An extension of this research is the design of environmental systems that monitor and promote good health. Collaborators for the Human Dolphin World Concept have been featured in popular publications such as MacWorld and Wired and covered by popular media through presentations on television's Beyond 2000.

For SIGGRAPH 94, the Human Performance Institute extended these interactive technologies into areas of interspecies communication. A goal of the Human/Dolphin Virtual Reality World Concept is to make visible an experience that is invisible to the general public: "being dolphined." Real-life sensorial communication with a dolphin creates an understanding of human multi-sensory capabilities.

The virtual environment at the Orlando Convention Center was a multi-dimensional, experiential environment designed for one participant at a time. They were extended three to five minutes in the Human/Dolphin Environment(HDE), where they experienced the technical advancement of the research and the phenomenon of communication by means of human brainwave interaction with a computer graphic dolphin in a virtual 3D water world. The visual and auditory aspects of this perceptive space were controlled by the user as their neurological data, transmitted through electrodes on the body, triggered a variety of frequencies from the brainwave signals. These frequencies were then input to a computer and further represented as a visual display of a dolphin's motion in a virtual space on a large screen in front of them..

Attendees participated by entering a quiet secluded space with electrodes placed on their bodies. They were then seated in a vibrasonic chair in front of a large screen with four speakers around them. Hardware components for the technical execution of the simulated environment were incorporated into the room in a semicircle-like panel behind the user.

Interactive and virtual technologies represent a fundamentally new way for people and computers to interact. As the capacity for computers to receive, process, and transmit massive amounts of information continually increases, technologies become more able to translate natural human actions of communication, such as thinking, speaking, and moving, into computer commands and multimedia displays. Practical extensions of this symbiotic process, linking human and computer intelligence, are only just beginning to be perceived by the forerunners of art and technology. With the technological systems currently under development, the nature of perception is the key ingredient for simulation.