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"the [science fiction] writer should be able to convince the reader (and himself) that the wonders he is describing really can come true...and that gets tricky when you take a good, hard look at the world around you."
- Frederik Pohl

  Special light-gathering elements allowed the end user to see omni-directionally.  

She'd never realized it before, but each set cost as much as a small house.

They looked it, too-at close range they had the strange aura of scientific instruments. a skin of tough black plastic, but packed tight with pricey superconductive circuitry. They had no real lenses in them - just thousands of bit-mapped light detectors. The raw output was a prismatic blur - visual software handled all the imagery, depth of focus, and so on. The operator, back at his screen, didn't have to depend on the user's gaze, though. With software he could examine anything in the entire field of vision.

From Islands in the Net, by Bruce Sterling.
Published by William Morrow in 1988
Additional resources -

You might also be interested in an SF in the News item called EyeBall: Omni-Directional Smart Eye Sensor for a story about a real-world device that can gather light from different directions; special software creates a nearly spherical picture.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Islands in the Net
  More Ideas and Technology by Bruce Sterling
  Tech news articles related to Islands in the Net
  Tech news articles related to works by Bruce Sterling

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