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Augmented senses

In this experiment, they created a simple device [Hearspace App]  incorporating a compass and headphones. It “allows users to reliably hear the direction of magnetic North as a stable sound object in external space on a headphone. They found that “long-lasting integration into the perception of self-rotation. Short training with amplified or reduced rotation gain in the magnetic signal can expand or compress the perceived extent of vestibular self-rotation, even with the magnetic signal absent in the test”

I was struck by this statement “sensory substitution and augmentation research has aimed to restore sensory functionality from non-invasive afferent signals of artificial sensors…there has been little concrete evidence that truly perceptual experiences have ever been obtained via this approach” 

Sensory augmentation: integration of an auditory compass signal into human perception of space”

[Was Paul Bach-y-Rita not doing pioneering work in this area? ]

Though I personally have yet to look deeply at the research in this area, it would be interesting to know if any of the research papers have used Neil Harbisson as a study example. Harbisson is totally colour blind, seeing the world in grey scale. He has an antenna implanted into his skull with a camera that transforms colour into sound. This signal is transmitted directly into his skull as sound. After years of wearing this device, he now senses this signal not just as sound but as a new sense separate from his hearing. As a musician, Harbisson created the scale and frequencies that are assigned to specific colours. This means that certain colour combinations create certain harmonies. So he can have favourite colours. But does this mean he truly has a new sense? I listened to him speak in Norway back in 2012, where he spoke about the fact he now even ‘dreams in colour’.

Artist, educator, and researcher working between the fields of science and art.

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