A New Color for ‘Enhanced Reality’ Displays

A staple of post-Neuromancer science fiction has been ‘enhanced reality’ displays, where some sort of data is overlaid on top of the user’s visual field.

In Richard Dawkins’ latest book, The Ancestor’s Tale, he writes:

Imagine that a neurobiologist inserts a tiny probe into, say, a green cone and stimulates it electrically. The green cell will now report ‘light’ while all other cells are silent. Will the brain ‘see’ a ‘super green’ hue such as could not possibly be achieved by any real light? Real light, no matter how pure, would always stimulate all three classes of cones to differing extents. (p. 148)

This intriguing possibility would have tremendous use for enhanced reality displays that did not simply overlay alphanumeric data but which also emphasized particular visual aspects of the user’s environment.

It occurs to me, also, that one of the big uses for implants in Neuromancer was data storage: an art dealer with catalogues and recent auction prices in his head, for example. Today, with so much information on networks, it seems as though a live network feed would be more useful.