Microsoft has unveiled a new technology which allows two remote users to see and work with shared 3D imagery on a tabletop. The exploratory augmented reality system, tentatively called MirageTable, utilizes curved screens to allow for two-way communications and interaction using digital and real-life objects. This kind of inversion of Jaron Lanier’s virtual reality concept, with the virtual world invading the real world rather than the other way around, was proposed in famous science fiction writer Stanislaw Lem’s magnum opus, Summa Technologiae, as far back as 1964. Perhaps the dream is truly becoming the everyday reality.
Phantomatics appear to be a sort of pinnacle toward which sundry forms and technologies of entertainment converge. There are already houses of illusion, ghost houses, funhouses -Disneyland is in fact one big primitive pseudophantomat. (…) Phantomatics has a certain potential to become an art. At least that would be my initial concession. This could therefore lead it to split into artistically valuable product and mediocre kitsch, as with movies or various types of art.
The menace of phantomatics is, however, incomparably greater than that represented by debased cinema, which sometimes crosses the boundaries of social norms, for example, in its pornographic or sadistic incarnations. For, due to its specificity, phantomatics offers the kind of experience which, in its intimacy, is equaled only by a dream.
–Stanislaw Lem, excerpts from the chapter “The Phantomological Machine” (Summa Technologiae, 1964).
[Source: BBC News]