Topological Slide

by Stewart Dickson and Michael Scroggins

Standing on a disk about one meter in diameter, I slid across new mathematical vistas in the Topological Slide. The platform is a specially designed motion sensor that slides you over graphical representations of mathematical formulas. The disk responds to your movements as you move forwards, backwards, left and right. The more you lean, the faster you go. The scenery is created by the ONYX and is projected into the head mounted display. The vast graphical curves and cliffs can be quite exhilarating, and convincing. At one point, as I brought my disk speeding up to a high curve, I lost my balance and almost wiped out in the real world. I got to try again later in the day, and found they had put in an easier shape, and so I really got the feel for surfing the virtual space. The possibilities for this one are quite remarkable. There are the obvious entertainment avenues such as surfing, snowboarding, skateboarding etc. Along with the possibility for multiple users, races and games, but there is also a serious use. This project was originally conceived of as a way for theoretical mathematicians to better understand the formulas they are developing. The ironic goal of this use of virtual reality technology is the better understanding of our own reality.