MIT academics design book that lets readers feel the protagonist’s pain
all images courtesy of scifi2scifab
researchers at MIT – felix heibeck, alexis hope, julie legault– have developed a wearable device that, when attached to the body, changes the bearer’s physical characteristics — the application of which is used for reading, so that the wearer can feel the excitement, desires and sympathies of the protagonist as they read a tech-connected book. ‘traditionally, fiction creates and induces emotions and empathy through words and images.’ the researchers explain, ‘by using a combination of networked sensors and actuators, the sensory fiction author is provided with new means of conveying plot, mood, and emotion while still allowing space for the reader’s imagination’.
‘sensory fiction’ provides an immersive storytelling experience tailored to the reader, sending discrete feedback to the body-based apparatus, changing the user’s heartbeat rate, creating constriction through air pressure bags, or causing localized temperature fluctuation. the book and wearable equipment support the following outputs: light — the book cover has 150 programmable LEDs to create ambient light based on changing setting and mood; sound; personal heating device to change skin temperature — through a peltier junction secured at the collarbone; vibration — to influence heart rate; and a compression system — to convey tightness or loosening through pressurized airbags.
the book cover has 150 programmable LEDs to create ambient light based on changing setting and mood
the prototype story used by the team to demonstrate the device’s functionality is, ‘the girl who was plugged in’ by james tiptree, a book which demonstrates an vast range of settings, scenes and sympathies. the main character experiences both deep love and ultimate despair.
while reading, the book sends discrete feedback to the body-based apparatus
the device can change the user’s heartbeat rate, create constriction through air pressure bags, or cause localized temperature fluctuation
the sensory fiction author is provided with new means of conveying plot, mood, and emotion