Translucent Technologies’ prehistory dates back to the 1980’s, when Paul Milgram and his colleagues developed a set of visual occlusion spectacles to facilitate research on automobile driving behaviour, while working at (what was then) the TNO Institute for Perception (a.k.a. IZF TNO) in Soesterberg, the Netherlands.(*)  The original idea of using visual occlusion to investigate the attentional demands of automobile driving dates back to the pioneering work of John W. Senders, who carried out his experiments in the 1960’s using a translucent screen mounted on a protective helmet and activated by means of a pneumatic cylinder!  (**)

Not coincidentally, John Senders had been Paul Milgram’s PhD supervisor while at the Department of Industrial Engineering at the University of Toronto. After (re)joining that department as a faculty member in 1986, Paul joined forces in 1990 with fellow professor, Joe Paradi, to form Translucent Technologies.  Both Joe and Paul continue as active faculty members, with Joe running the Centre for Management of Technology & Entrepreneurship (, and Paul running the Ergonomics in Teleoperation and Control Lab (

Although the PLATO spectacles have undergone several technological improvements since those early days, a number of the originally designed units are purportedly still functioning out there … after almost 30 years!!  Clearly there are many stories that we could write about our products; suffice it to say that our visual occlusion devices continue to be used by hundreds of researchers, literally around the world … and beyond.  (Although we can’t verify that it actually occurred, one set of PLATO spectacles was purchased for the purpose of sending it into space, for an experiment, on the Mir Space Station!)


(*)  P. Milgram. “A spectacle-mounted liquid-crystal tachistoscope“, Behaviour Research Methods, Instruments and Computers, 19 (5), 449-456, 1987.

(**) J.W. Senders, A.B. Kristofferson, W.H. Levison, C.W. Dietrich & J.L. Ward.  “The attentional demand of automobile driving.” Highway Research Record, No. 195, US Highway Research Board, Washington, DC, 15-33, 1967.

(**) You can watch the original BBC video of John Senders' pioneering visual occlusion research here: (Pioneer Days on Rt 128)


If you would like to discuss how PLATO spectacles and the ToTaL Control System might be applied to your research or testing applications, and to find out about pricing and availability, please contact us.



Dr. Paul Milgram
5 King’s College Road
Toronto, Ontario, Canada     M5S 3G8

Phone: +1-416-978-3662
E-Mail: or