Sensory Substitution Devices

Touch Sight – Skin as a video display
Haptic Display V 2.2

This project was inspired by the book On Intelligence. Learning about the brain’s plasticity I was curious to experiment with simple electronic devices that would augment our experience. The first one I built was a shirt that detected faces in front of you and presented the locations in your field of view to your skin. It had a grid of 100 vibrating motors and was noisy and really fun to make:

Compass Headband
Once I was told that birds have a sense for the cardinal directions. I figured I should too, so I made this hat that gave me a gigantic headache:

Colorshifting Biofeedback Glasses – Representing Stress Responses Visually


After hearing about the Iowa Gambling Task experiment in which subjects are given decks of cards and are asked to pick between them. Each choice either wins them money or loses them a certain amount depending on the value of the card. A healthy individual will begin picking the deck that offers him the highest running values after picking approximately 50 choices. But amazingly after 10 choices the individual’s galvanic skin response jumps. Here’s a Google Books link to the paper by Dr. Damásio: Insensitivity to future consequences following damage to human prefrontal cortex.

It seemed likely that by getting closer insight into our emotional states we could make better decisions. So I made these glasses that tinted your peripheral vision depending on your galvanic skin response. Using a simple voltage divider circuit, an arduino, RGB LED’s, safety glasses and diffusers I was able to make glasses that related information from my subconcious and displayed it to a sense that I was very aware of… vision. Here’s a video me and a friend Anand Atreya going through some GSR tests and the goggles in action:


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