Morpheus on… Flying

It’s been a number of years now, since I heard of a machine that enabled a person to fly like a bird. It consisted of a light rig, suspended by wires – and a “virtuality” helmet. The flier would strap themselves in and don the helmet, which contained speakers and a 3-D view that covered the natural field of vision. The helmet and suspending wires were connected to a computer.

The flier would lie prone, with their arms outstretched. Then every time they moved, their movements would be picked up by the suspending wires and relayed to the computer, which would generate graphics to match the movements. These would be displayed inside the virtuality helmet.

Thus, jackknife and you would go down – arch your back and you would rise. Speed was controlled by the arms. Forward for slower, back for faster. The audio was merely white noise, which rose in intensity the faster you went – it was meant to represent the rush of air. But it was the VIDEO that made it. The computer had a memory bank of shapes – graphic representations of buildings, hills and trees.

Once you got the hang of it, the experience was like being in the flying sequences from the first Superman movie, Disney’s Peter Pan and David (the magician, not the Dickins character) Copperfield’s “Flying” routine, all rolled into one. The experience was so emotional, some came out of it CRYING (I can relate to that – watching Copperfield’s routine makes ME misty – it cuts deep at the heart of man’s desire for freedom).

But there was a catch (there always is). In racing video-games, the graphics are highly sophisticated – sometimes derived from photographs of the actual circuit itself – but the parameters laid down for the cars are limited. When going round Monaco, you can’t just turn off the course and head for Cannes.

However, since the flying machine gave you 360-degree freedom – you could go anywhere – its graphics were of necessity, far more basic.


When they MARRY these two technologies, I’ve got dibs on the first flight…


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