Independent Study with Marcus Gordon


When contemplating future technology there is the needed elicitation of how these mechanics effect relationships. Conceptualized through this study is research into a cost -effective prototype.  A simulation of  the corporeal experience that portrays the virtual and real self within the changing pe rception of time and space in repainted reality. This study is intended as an ongoing dialogue into future holographic environments as it would recreate our perception of time and space. 


Independent Study OCAD University

Through OCAD university I was able to delve into a technological adventure that would coalesce with creative academic study within niche frameworks of interesting theory.  For the last 12 months I have had the pleasure of following Marcus Gordon’s work as adjunct professor and researcher. His open expression and expertise within an interesting array of fields such as holography and data visualization provided the support to truly refine, create and explore. Independent study is a creative process with an advisor of your choosing.  Our weekly meetings evolved towards a method of working together. Marcus would refine my ideas but also add his own creative approach. Through his expertise I was able to evolve my original premise and prototype. Together we set up a curriculum, this allowed agency to incorporate new information and get his feedback as our project evolved. Through Marcus’s recommendations and knowledge of Holography I was able to work closely with the PHASE Lab and Michael Page. Outside of preconceived jurisdiction of direction I was given agency to  add to my essential foundation at O.C.A.D through unbridled learning and convergence. It is important to note what the experience of Independent Study can be and how it works towards important areas of interest you may not have been able to procure otherwise.  



Fig. 1 Prottype Ppeaker and Mirror, Alicia Blakey, 2019.


The patterns of two waves of light embedded onto a piece of film produces a hologram. Dennis Gabor was one of the founders in this particular field of science. During Gabor’s career holography was referred to as”wavefront reconstruction”. Progress in Holography didn’t escalate until a more efficient light source became available, the laser.

Holography is the basis for some extraordinary advancements in technology namely lasers, which advanced tools in the medical field and gave birth to the creation of fibre optics.  Juxtaposition with our sociological relationship with new devices there is the consideration to propose questions about the future of Immersive 3D environments. This premise is formed under the process that the theory of holography could conceptualize a repainted reality that moves beyond the constrictions of VR ( Virtual Reality). 

VR being isolated from the real world, it’s not easy to engage in social interactions or physical movement in a way that feels natural to most people. (VR) headsets still suffer from several technical limitations, such as a reduced field of view with facial, head and body constrictions to support environment. Holography moves beyond this constriction as a future iteration. Through this premise we can occasion future holographic technological advancements that feel more like reality than ever before. Holography was predicted by Dennis Gabor but not realized until 1960 when lasers were first produced. Through lasers we have coherence which is the basis of of making holographic theory work (Wenyon,1978).

Throughout history theorists have analyzed our relationship with emerging future technology and how our perception of time and space changes with these tools. That affect has consequences, good and bad within the way we make decisions and form sociological agreements. This in turn has an impact on our entire existence. French theorist and German sociologist Henri Bergson and George Simmel articulated the ecosystem of consideration  needed to quantify this very massive question. Simmel is an excellent example of this, he was immersed in the new technology of the pocket watch. He observed how this creation was essential to the construction within newly industrialized cities. Simmel portrayed how the pocket watch allowed time to be perceived in a different way than previous technologies, examining how this had a cause and effect on the emerging industrial economy (Sullivan, Stewart,  & Diefendorf, 2015). We can directly relate this train of thought to the future technology of holography and begin to propose a conversation on how this will change our reality through our relationship with time and space.



 Fig. 2 Oscilloscope, Speaker and Lissajou, Alicia Blakey, 2019.

Timeline of Laser Technology


L.A.S.E.R actually stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. This directed beam of light is created through a process known as optical amplification. The differentiation that distinguishes a laser is spatial and temporal coherence. Spatial Coherence directs a beam along a defined path across long distances. Energy generated from a laser is what produced laser cutting and laser pointers.

In 1917, Albert Einstein first theorized about the process which makes lasers possible called Stimulated Emission. Today, lasers are used in a wide range of technologies including optical disk drives, laser printers and barcode scanners. They are also used in laser surgery and skin treatments as well as cutting and welding.

In 1954, Charles Townes and Arthur Schawlow invented the Microwave Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation using ammonia gas and microwave radiation. This was was invented before the Optical Laser. The technology is very similar but does not use visible light.

 March, 1959, Townes and Schawlow were granted a patent for the Maser. The Maser was used to amplify radio signals and as an ultra sensitive detector for space research.In 1958, Townes and Schawlow theorized and published papers about a visible laser, an invention that would use infrared and/or visible spectrum light. However, they did not proceed with any research at the time. Many different materials can be used as lasers. Some, like the ruby laser, emit short pulses of laser light. Others, like helium-neon gas lasers or liquid dye lasers, emit a continuous beam of light.
In 1960, Theodore Maiman invented the ruby laser considered to be the first successful optical or light laser. Many historians claim that Maiman invented the first optical laser. However, there is some controversy due to claims that Gordon Gould was the first and there is good evidence backing that claim.

 Gould Laser 

Gould was the first person to use the word “laser.” Gould was a doctoral student at Columbia University under Townes, the inventor of the Maser. Gould was inspired to build his optical laser starting in 1958. He failed to file for a patent his invention until 1959. As a result, Gould’s patent was refused and his technology was exploited by others. It took until 1977 for Gould to finally win his patent war and receive his first patent for the laser.

The Gas Laser 

The first gas laser (helium-neon) was invented by Ali Javan in 1960. The gas laser was the first continuous-light laser and the first to operate “on the principle of converting electrical energy to a laser light output.” It has been used in many practical applications.

 Semiconductor Injection Laser 

In 1962, inventor Robert Hall created a revolutionary type of laser that is still used in many of the electronic appliances and communications systems that we use every day.

 Carbon Dioxide Laser 

The carbon dioxide laser was invented by Kumar Patell in 1964.

 Laser Eye Surgery 

New York City ophthalmologist Steven Trokel made the connection to the cornea and performed the first laser surgery on a patient’s eyes in 1987. The next ten years were spent perfecting the equipment and the techniques used in laser eye surgery. In 1996, the first Excimer laser for ophthalmic refractive use was approved in the United States.

Trokel patented the Excimer laser for vision correction. The Excimer laser was originally used for etching silicone computer chips in the 1970s. Working in the IBM research laboratories in 1982, Rangaswamy Srinivasin, James Wynne and Samuel Blum saw the potential of the Excimer laser in interacting with biological tissue. Srinivasin and the IBM team realized that you could remove tissue with a laser without causing any heat damage to the neighboring material.But it took the observations of Dr. Fyodorov in a case of eye trauma in the 1970’s to bring about the practical application of refractive surgery through radial keratotomy.


Prototype Exploration 

To answer the question, how do we create a simulation of  a 3D visceral environment based on holographic optics? Since we are thinking in the realm of future holographic technology, the big question is how do we make a simulation possible now?  Why, lasers of course! Through coherent light we can create 3D  architecture within a laser grid.  A grid like this can be mapped to provide haptic feedback. Based on Matthew Schriebers work, a light artist that works with static laser grids, I was curious how to construct a geometric laser formation. Expanding on Screibers constructions, creating a grid  that could provide sensory feedback and possibly change perspective based on user interaction was the starting point for this research.



Fig. 2 VIVE System, Alicia Blakey, 2019.


Contemplating what the iterative process would be based on my inspiration of Schreibers  work  I looked into Integration of VIVE sensors. These sensors can be programmed in VR to run along the same grid as the non virtual lasers system. When a user passes through the grid they can visually see their recreated 3D environment in real life and  get a sensory output. This prototype explores the research obtained in order to potentially construct this idea.



Fig. 1 Holographic Laser Optics,Matthew Schreiber,2016.


The experimental idea to initiate a geometric laser pattern to produce moving architecture is ingrained in the mathematics of a Lissajous. Lissajous figures also called Bowditch curve, is a pattern produced by the intersection of two sinusoidal curves the axes of which are at right angles to each other. First studied by the American mathematician Nathaniel Bowditch in 1815, the curves were investigated independently by the French mathematician Jules-Antoine Lissajous in 1857–58. Lissajous used a narrow stream of sand pouring from the base of a compound pendulum to produce the curves.

This works by using what is referred to as sinusoidal signal along the x-axis against another sinusoidal signal along the y-axis, the result is a Lissajous figure.  At O.C.A.D University PHASE LAB using the display of a digital oscilloscope I was able to see the representation of differences. The oscilloscope is useful for displaying periodic signals.

When x-y mode is turned on, the second channel is displayed along the x-axis rather than the time base. For sine waves, this produces a Lissajous Figure from which it is possible to tell the phase difference between the two signals. Lissajous figures were discovered by the French physicist Jules Antoine Lissajous. 
Lissajou would use sounds of different frequencies to vibrate a mirror. In the PHASE Lab working with this theory I created a Liassjou as an exploration into understanding the architecture for possible future construction of this prototype. 

Lissajous figures work with laser and two signal generators. Lissajous prototype consists of two speakers with a mirror mounted on each speaker so that one mirror swings horizontally, and the other swings vertically. Light from a diode laser bounces from one mirror to the other and then onto a surface.


Fig. 1 Holographic Laser Optics,Matthew Schreiber,2016.                                                


The apparatus consists of a laser and mirrors mounted on two speakers. The frequencies and amplitudes of the mirrors’ oscillations are adjusted on two separate tone generators that run through the speakers.  When a frequency is run through the speakers the vibration of the reflection quite simply creates a pattern. Which is a basic understanding of how to create a moving laser grid assimilation of 3D shapes. 





These figures are created through the superposition of two perpendicular sinusoidal waves. One mirror oscillates in the x direction while the other one oscillates in the y direction. The laser reflected from the mirrors traces patterns which depend on the relative frequencies of the sounds. These Lissajous figures can be represented by the two equations below:

Where a and b represent the amplitude of the wave, ω represents the angular frequencies, φ’s represent the phase and t is time.


Fig. 9 Lissajous Patterns ,Alicia Blakey,2019.


Research obtained on how to integrate Vive Haptics mapping out the same spatial grid in VR required Input for OpenVR controllers. For the Unity Editor to support OpenVR tracked controllers, the Unity VR subsystem presents VR controller inputs as separate joysticks. Use the UnityEngine.Input class to access the axis and button values.OpenVR’s Unity integration doesn’t refer to any specific hardware when presenting axis and button states. This page provides the axis and button mappings for the Vive sensors and controllers.


Naming convention and detection:

When properly configured and connected, any OpenVR-compatible controllers are internally named as either OpenVR Controller – Left or OpenVR Controller – Right. Access this name through the list returned by

UnityEngine.Input.GetJoystickNames(). When available, these controllers appear highlighted in green in the SteamVR status menu when tested with Steam. To access this menu you must have both Steam and SteamVR installed and running on your machine.

You can test the availability of these controllers by periodically checking for their presence in the list of joystick names through script. When the controllers turn off, or when you remove their batteries, an empty string replaces their name in the list returned by UnityEngine.Input.GetJoystickNames(). When the controllers turn on again, their name reappears in the list of returned joysticks.

Unity Input System Mappings

This section provides diagrams for controller supported by OpenVR devices, along with documenting all the button controls. On the internal Unity input mapping for each controller button requires specific coding for each function.



                                Fig. 9 Map of Vive Haptic Controllers, Alicia Blakey, 2019.


Utilizing all the information from this research testing phase I  envision an approach that uses more durable methods like high functioning servo motors and wood encasing for multiple higher powered lasers. 3-D printing (for custom, one-off systems) for the complex geometry of the structural parts of the laser grid. A well-designed interface based on current user testing  between the two components of grid and output with Vive haptics . This paper presents a research accumulation methodology for prototyped laser grid and haptic foundational applications. This prototype considers the emergence of future holographic technology. We can think of this  as a concept like Star Trek’s Holodeck. A device used to narrate philosophical questions about holographic environments. The main basis for this information  is to have an organized mathematical and coding structure needed to create a more advanced prototype.




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