What beats out GPS as the best location-aware technology on the Planet? The human brain.

by | Traveling

A typical baseball pitch can run up to 90 miles per hour and take a second to go from the pitcher to the batter.  But it takes a full 0.7 seconds for the signal from the brain to the muscles to begin to move, which means that batter has about 0.3 seconds to look at all the variables of the incoming ball and make a decision to swing. This highly tuned ability to determine position of the body relative to other objects is an innate capability that all humans have.  It is being used every second of the day…when you are avoiding that oncoming person walking towards you, when you move around furniture, when someone comes into your “personal space” and even when a 90 mile per hour ball is coming at you.

There are many different concepts of space, that are loosely categorized into extra personal space (space outside the reach of an individual), peripersonal space (the space within reach of any limb) and pericutaneous space (space just outside our bodies but which might be near to touching it). This calculation of space is so important, that the brain has dedicated parts of it to make sure we are constantly making decisions relative to the things around us. The power and knowledge embedded in position is enormous because the brain is constantly trying to figure out ways to interact with the environment in a way that is safe and productive.

Examples of our natural inclination to be aware of the power and knowledge of position are everywhere:

–In first-person video games (where the person is playing the game as a character), there are two common views that can be selected by the player…a third person (where the view of the camera is showing the actual avatar of the player) or through the eyes of the actual character. The most commonly selected view is “third person” because this allows the player to see the avatar’s body in relation to its environment around it.

–For most people, memories are 3rd person. We like taking advantage of the larger scene enough to rotate our memory to 3rd person and then watching behaviors in order to change them.

–Some popular memorization games (which helps people remember things) are based on putting those memorized items into a story line based on where they are located in a house or on a path. We tend to remember things when we remember the context of where they are located

–The promise of videoconferencing has failed to materialize because it is good for getting a visual of a person but it has no concept of shared space. Our minds are best adept at understanding 3D spaces and getting immersed.

For the first time in human history, technologies such as GPS (Global Positioning Satellites) and other positioning technologies has now given us the capability to add an additional sensory input into our decisions. ..how to more accurately understand where people and things around us in our extra personal space. This added capability will transform the way we interact with our environment by giving us more accurate position of things and people…to eventually make better decisions.


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