Today’s feature on hackaday is a set of goggles you can wear that induce visual hallucinations. Designed by Everett over at We Alone on Earth, the goggles are based on a pair of swimming goggles from the local discount store. They are fitted with ping pong balls that have been cut apart and glued back together with an RGB LED inside. An Arduino rounds out the package, driving the LEDs in response to pushbuttons.
The ping pong balls are used to diffuse the light from the LED so it uniformly fills the field of vision. The Arduino flashes the LEDs in different colors and at different rates (8-12 Hz seems to be the typical frequency range), being controlled by a set of pushbuttons. In a later article other (simpler to construct) diffusers are tried out, one successful attempt being to partly fill the goggles with epoxy that has salt mixed in with it. The Arduino code is extensively commented, unfortunately it’s in a really tiny font on the blog, and I started to experience visual hallucinations myself just trying to read it.
Visual hallucinations caused by flickering lights are a well known phenomenon (the article contains links to a few journal articles). Examples reported include images of the veins in the retina, geometric patterns, and more complex hallucinations such as animal or other figures:
This is what the poet Margiad Evans had to say, in a paper linked from the blog posting.
‘Lights like comets dangled before me, slow at first and then gaining a fury of speed and change, whirling colour into colour, angle into angle. They were all pure ultra unearthly colours, mental colours, not deep visual ones. There was no glow in them but only activity and revolution’
Far out dude.
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