Unusual Real-World Uses of Optical Illusions

It is amazing how technology changed the way we live in. Especially in terms of entertainment. A lot of exciting and extremely fun activities are now just one click away. Software developers and computer engineers are the ones that we should thank for this. There are, in fact, so many entertainment opportunities online that we often have difficulty choosing. Have a look at this engaging website updated recently if you need help choosing the best online casino.

It is astonishing how much of the technological development depends on illusions in general and especially optical illusions. Filmmakers and animation specialists will tell you that the knowledge of how the brain works and how it perceives patterns, colours and shapes is essential for anyone who wants to produce a graphic product of high quality.

Optical Illusions and Warships
The film and animation industry isn’t the only one that is relying on optical illusions. The weapons industry also relied on optical illusions, particularly when it came to shipbuilding, in both the First and the Second World War. If you’ve seen ‘What the bleep do we know?!’ you know that scientists are almost certain that Native Americans couldn’t see Columbus’s ships because they couldn’t recognise them.

But, you probably didn’t know that certain warships were painted in unusual patterns in order to deceive the enemy as to how far they are and how big they are. This was possible due to the fact that submarines, like the German U-boat could only use periscopes for a very limited amount of time, at most few seconds and after that they became discoverable, so they had to act quickly.

When the ship was camouflaged its distance and speed were often miscalculated which caused the enemy’s missiles to miss the ship, thus saving the lives of everyone on board. This tactic is described and explained, in great detail in an article by Nicholas E. Scott-Samuel of the University of Bristol.


Optical Illusions in Filmmaking and Architecture
Earlier we mentioned that optical illusion techniques are often employed in the filmmaking process. Forced perspective is one of the most commonly used methods. It is the illusion which causes objects to appear farther or closer, or bigger or littler. It can be used as the filmmaker desires.

One particular example is the last scene of the iconic Casablanca. The plane in the last scene was a miniature and multiple techniques were used to make it larger. Another example is the popular Harry Potter where forced perspective is used to present the giant Hagrid. This is possible because, as humans we have quite imperfect 3D vision. Our 3D vision depends on a flat, 2D retina and that is why it is so imperfect.

Forced perspective has been also used in architecture:

  • Michelangelo carefully chose the proportions for his David in order to make the sculpture look a lot more natural from below;
  • The same technique describe above was used in the making of the Statue of Liberty;
  • Walt Disney World engineers used force perspective to build Cinderella’s Castle and make it more appealing for the children.

In fact, it should be said that watching videos itself is enabled by an optical illusion. When we see static images that are changing quickly the illusion of movement is created. And without movement there could be no videos. It has been established that at least 24 pictures per second are enough to create a movement illusion. Our brain simple sees objects at different positions in space in a brief amount of time and assumes that they are moving.


Optical Illusions and Light Bulbs
Nowadays we have a high awareness of the positive aspects of energy efficient light bulbs.

    • They save energy – An energy efficient bulb typically spends from 25% up to 80% less energy compared to traditional bulbs;
    • By saving energy we save money;
    • They are good for the environment;
    • They last longer – While traditional light bulbs usually last about 1,000 hours, energy-saving light bulbs may last up to 25,000 hours.

Sure, but what that has to do with optical illusions, you may ask. Well, scientists use the so called ‘flickering effect’ which allows bulbs to flicker up to a 1/8 of the time while still appearing as bright as if they are on the whole time. This allows them to save energy.


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