Revisiting Threats and Peripheral Noise

The most plausible explanation for peripheral vision seems to trace itself to evolution. During their hunting and gathering phase, humans needed to be aware of threats that do not dominate their main line of vision; this kind of critical information also gives the perspective of direction of the threat. While Pousman et al’s paper focuses on ambient media that display non-critical information, the fidelity in today’s ambient media and our modern day interpretation of what a threat is can allow us to investigate innovative approaches in ambient media by revisiting of how we can feed critical information to our peripheral senses more responsibly.

Distractions are an unfortunate outcome of the current proliferation of information and some irresponsibly designed stimuli which can exist at the periphery of our senses start to demand our attention. Because of this, we might need innovations that diffuse the noise from our periphery and help focus our attention. Of course, this is not in the way the isolator helmet does it (courtesy Noura:, but ambient media may be able to distinguish peripheral noise from peripheral signal in real-time to help us focus. Interpreting threats – both from an evolutionary and a modern day perspective – would then become an important asset to ambient media despite the various definitions of ambient media relating to non-critical information. Directionally, threats can also extend to time and space – for example, a threat to a student can be missing an important deadline or making the student aware that her workload is about to multiply in the next few weeks.

Ambient media may also help augment our peripheral vision by helping us identify threats which lie beyond our peripheral vision too. For example, on detecting a potential threat pursuing the user at night, ambient media could trigger street lights or a nearby car alarm to attract attention to detract the threat.

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