In one week, I'll be staring into my first child's face. But what will he or she be seeing? How will I look to him/her? I've always wondered this, and now there's an iPhone app that purports to "simulate what your child sees during its first year of life." It's called What Do You See?, and according to creators Blixt & Dunder, it's based on publicly available medical research about developmental milestones in human vision. If there's an overlapping Venn diagram of "tech dorks," "science geeks," "design nerds," and "expectant parents," the What Do You See? app pretty much nails it.
Dial in your kid's birthday, and a custom filter mimics Junior's POV.
The app experience is ultra-basic: You dial in your kid's birthday, then hit a button to activate the iPhone's camera with a custom filter on it that mimics what the world looks like from Junior's POV. If he's less than six months old, the answer is: "brown and fuzzy." You can even snap a photo with this "look" and share it with your friends. Move over, Instagram!
If you start dialing back the age range in What Do You See?, you can watch the subtle changes in perception occur. First that brown tint over the world goes away. Then things start to sharpen up. By around age 2, things basically look exactly like they would to everyone else. (It may happen sooner than that, but I was jumping through the What Do You See? app's age-dial in 6-month increments.)
Granted, the app has some bugs -- unless I'm welcoming a tiny swaddled cyborg into the world next week, I don't expect his/her vision to suddenly flash black, solarized patterns over random objects with every movement. And the designers include a disclaimer stating that they "can't guarantee the accuracy of the simulation and you should consider What Do You See? as an entertainment app and not a scientifically perfect app." Fair enough: After 10 minutes playing with it, I was literally making "goo goo ga ga" noises into the lens just to pretend-watch myself from my soon-to-be-born baby's point of view. If that's not entertainment, what is?