I am currently working on ways to interact with four dimensional objects in virtual and mixed reality. It’s pretty much the realization of a childhood dream of mine.

I always wondered what it would be like to be able to interact with objects that have four spatial dimensional, right here in our own world. As far as I know, it’s impossible, since our Universe has only three spatial dimensions that humans can readily access.

But once you put virtual and mixed reality into the mix, the game changes. There is nothing stopping us from perceiving and interacting with a four dimensional object projected down into our three dimensional space, as long as we can simulate its properties on a computer.

Now that our lab is building a “metaroom” — a parallel physical reality where anything is possible — the dream is becoming attainable. I can envision a time not too far from now when children will grow up in a world where four dimensional objects are simply part of their everyday experience.

Those children will take for granted abilities of spatial reasoning that we can only imagine. As they grow up, they will use those skills to construct new ways of visualizing, of communicating, of working and playing together.

By the way, the animated gif that accompanies this post is a little movie I took of one of the first things I ever printed on a 3D printer, back in the summer of 2010. It’s a zoetrope that shows a tumbling hypercube — a four dimensional object projected down to our three dimensional world.

Because it is animated, and therefore includes time, you might say that it is a five dimensional object. But maybe I am getting ahead of myself. 🙂

Ken Perlin
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