GUNNARS

Synthesizing the Sense of Synesthesia

By June 28, 2013 Blogs, News No Comments
child-of-eden

Many of us take our vision and perception of the world for granted on a daily basis. We assume that everyone is privy to the same sights and sounds and interpretations of sense in the same manner. This is just not true. While GUNNAR Optiks generally enhance the visual experience, especially in a digital landscape, there is so much more to the sense of sight that even we cannot begin to dream of covering it all with amber tinted lenses.

Take Synesthesia for example. This neurological condition is not well defined, as only recently research has begun to re-address this interesting sensory and cognitive jigsaw puzzle. One of the most common forms of Synesthesia is that of grapheme. This is where the synesthetes (a person with Synesthesia) perceives letters and numbers as randomly colored. There are also other caveats of the condition that cause distance to be applied to different subsets of numbers and letters, or other spatial misalignment that simply doesn’t exist. There are also those that hear sounds in relation to visual motion. These are involuntary and uncontrolled reactions to reality and perception. There is no cure, but then it seems that perhaps an alternate view of perceptive reality might be preferred over actual reality sometimes. The designers of the game Child of Eden felt the same way.

Child of Eden, published by Ubisoft, by designer Tetsuya Mizuguchi is a game that claims to engage sound, vision and touch in a seamless manner. You can check out the trailer for the game here, and see for yourself the imagery that is presented. It is a little over the top, it does take place in the future and within a computer network I believe. Based on the colors and interaction, this is probably game where you’d want to switch from classic Amber tint GUNNARs to Crystalline, just to get the feel of the true color. A lot of it is on dark backgrounds, so I wouldn’t worry too much about eye strain. Tetsuya Mizuguchi is the pioneer in these types of games, having been responsible for Rez an early version of Child of Eden.

This article in Psychology Today discusses Rez, Child of Eden as well as a board game that also seeks to emulate Synesthesia. Yet what the article lacks is a reason why one would want to smell the music (though smelling is a sense that video games cannot emulate – yet). While Synesthesia is interesting, and provides a few advantages in the visual sense, it is still a condition which causes disorienting and false perceptions of the world around you. So basically, Tetsuya Mizuguchi wants to show you what it would be like if you were on LSD — something that also causes you to smell colors and disassociate senses.

Though we are always looking for different ways to perceive the world. With GUNNAR glasses, you can at least perceive the world without worrying about fatigue headaches and computer vision syndrome, but you can’t see numbers as colors. While the games mentioned above do offer some insight into the world of people with this condition, they don’t really emulate it. Rather, they only use our perception of color, shapes and sound. A person with Synesthesia would have a totally different experience, and the games most likely don’t emulate what they are experiencing as there are so many variables to each person’s particular instance of Synesthesia. There hasn’t been enough research to date to be able to pinpoint exact conditional variables to properly emulate it for those of us with “normal” perception. Hence the LSD reference, which actually makes more sense. Rather than experiencing true Synesthesia, our perceptions are merely tested with a layman level of synthetic Synesthesia.

In the end we’ll truly never know what it is like to have Synesthesia and deal with altered perceptions on a daily basis. You can rest assured though, that GUNNAR Optiks is here to help with the visual perceptions in your daily life that we consider normal, whether they are or not. And if you have Synesthesia, you might want to consider a pair, if not just to make the color of those numbers a bit sharper.

Image: Ubisoft

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