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Help our neuroscientific project to expand human perception. We’re making a wearable device to let brains take in new data streams.
Can brain science + several little motors + a cell phone expand the limits of our biology?
I’m Dr. David Eagleman, a neuroscientist at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. My graduate student Scott Novich and I are on a mission to see how far we can push the limits of human perception, and what it means to be human in general. We want to invite you along for the ride!
We’re undertaking an audacious task: developing the most advanced sensory substitution system to-date. We’re building a wearable vest that communicates sound to the brain using the sense of touch. We expect this will be powerful enough to give deaf individuals a new “sense” of hearing. We call it the Versatile Extra-Sensory Transducer, or VEST.
The idea of sensory substitution is not new: it was pioneered by Paul Bach-y-Rita in 1969 with blind participants. He developed a dental chair with an array of push pins on its back, which was attached to a video-camera feed. Blind participants sat in this chair, and felt what was presented in front of the camera. After practice, the participants began to develop a visual intuition for the sensations they felt. Today, the current incarnation of this device is called the Brainport, and blind individuals have been able to use this in complex visual tasks (like obstacle course navigation).
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