First there were those bulky, unwieldy virtual reality machines that you could try out at museums and arcades that put your senses into a virtual world. Google Glass hopes to turn your daily experience into a ubiquitous computer.
But now there’s an even more…’interesting’ development as we get closer to singularity with computers. “Interesting” is the only neutral term to describe this new innovation. Other ways to describe it are ‘weird, odd, unnecessary,’ and ‘it could be cool.’
Feel the Character’s Emotion
It’s called “Sensory Fiction.” Researchers at MIT’s Media Lab have been working on it and it’s certainly a novel idea. It’s a “wearable book” that enables you experience emotions along with the story’s characters.
To be clear, this device does not hook up to your brain and zap it into feeling the psychological emotions of the characters. Instead it’s a vest that the reader wears that is connected to the book by sensors.
The MIT group has built its prototype based on—fittingly—the proto-cyberpunk book The Girl Who Was Plugged In. The sensors on the book know which page the reader is on. It then sends electrical signals according to the page.
For instance, if on a certain page, the book’s protagonist is scared, the vest will constrict. If she’s excited, it will vibrate. When embarrassed, the vest will get hot. And just for a little extra kick, LED lights on the outside of the book change color based on the protagonist’s differing moods.
As said before, it’s certainly an interesting idea. At the same time though isn’t one of the joys of books the fact that you can relax and imagine the action? Isn’t the mark of a good book its ability to convey the moments of embarrassment, of fear, and of excitement purely through how it’s written?
The “Sensory Fiction” concept just comes across as a little extraneous. Sure, we are able to create a device that makes you physically (thought crudely) feel the emotions of a book character. But is it really worth it? Not just in terms of profitability, but worth it in the sense that it doesn’t seem to offer that much of an experience.
Dr. Mike Malone and his team practice expert cosmetic dentistry in Lafayette, LA. Dr. Malone is the former president and current accredited member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. He is also the official Cosmetic Dentist of the Miss Louisiana USA and Miss Louisiana Teen USA pageants. Check out his website for more information.