17 April

What is Sensory Augmentation?   Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Posted by : Ryan Clark
Similar to sensory substitution, sensory augmentation stimulates the sensory apparatus of one sense in an attempt to evoke the feel of another. However, in this case, the “other” sense is one that we humans do not normally possess, such as the ability to sense magnetic fields.

Sound like science fiction? Not any longer. The feelSpace project succeeded in giving its participants a magnetic sense via a vibrotactile belt. The portion of the belt facing magnetic north would vibrate, giving the user continuous feedback regarding his or her orientation relative to the earth’s magnetic field.

Below are statements from two participants:

“I suddenly realized that my perception had shifted. I had some kind of internal map of the city in my head. I could always find my way home. Eventually, I felt I couldn’t get lost, even in a completely new place.”

“While wearing the belt, I didn’t realize how much my perception had changed. After removing the belt, my living space diminished quickly: the world appeared smaller and more chaotic because relative positions to places beyond the visual horizon were rather unordered.”

For more information, see the feelSpace final report and this article from Wired. To try it out for yourself, have a look at the North Paw, a vibrotactile anklet, similar to the feelSpace belt. Kits can be purchased at this site.

At TranscendSense, we are very interested in this field and have one sensory augmentation project already underway. Follow us on Twitter or Facebook if you would like to be kept up to date.
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