Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Virtual Walking

The title is flashy: Paralysed man walks in Second Life, but the reality is much better: they have found an interface from the brain to computers, which lets the paralysed person control computer programs. In this case it's let the person control the motion of an avatar in SL.

This is a wonderful story, and looks much more uplifting than Monkey brain controls robot arm, which is, pretty much, the same story only with slightly different technology. Also the monkeys are a bit more sophisticated, while it's cool to be able to control an SL avatar, tre dimentional movement which can result in being able to feed yourself and not dependendt on being fed is pretty impressive.

It all reminds me of the email I got, almost two years ago, from a woman who had spent the last 12 years of her life in a wheelchair. She had forgotten, even in her dreams, what it was like to move around. World of Warcraft had her jumping and dancing in her dreams again.

Computers can give us back the feeling of freedom and control which circumstances makes us lose - not just because we think we are free and in control, but because we are. The woman who wrote me could, through WoW, play games, crack jokes and have fun with her children, who were hundreds of kilometers away. For her to go and actually do that in the physical world would have been a huge effort.

Computers, even computer games and virtual worlds, do real things, because they are real communication devices. So, some of the communication is a bit more elaborate than other modes, but hey, it's shared experiences!

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