Saturday, March 02, 2013

Feeling sound, hearing color

This was supposed to be a post on disruptive technologies: 3D printing, big data, augmented reality, and other on-the-horizon possibilities that could destroy millions of jobs, then create new industries over a period of several turbulent decades.

Or not.

One potential line of development is that unlike the Industrial Revolution of the 1800s, these new technologies may replace human workers entirely, rather than generating new forms of employment. Either way, a discussion of their possible impact would make for a nice lead into the next articles in both the ongoing States and Nations and Dystopias series.

Instead, I kept getting distracted by more articles on human sensory augmentation.

Feeling Sound

Researcher develops Spidey-sense suit | Defense Tech:

'via Blog this'

Defense has an interesting piece on University of Chicago PhD student Victor Mateevitsi, who has developed a tactile sensor interface suit for the blind. The wearable system coverts ultrasonic reflections into skin sensations, which allows blindfolded test subjects to feel people approaching them.

While the technology is still low-resolution, there is lots of plausible room for improvement. In the not too far off future, wearers may be able to feel their surroundings at a distance in textured detail.

Hearing Color

Is It Time To Take Cyborg Rights Seriously? A Q&A With Neil Harbisson:

'via Blog this'

Slate Magazine has a question and answer session with colorblind artist Niel Harbisson, who uses an Eyeborg system to convert colors into sounds. The more saturated the hue, the more intense the sound.

While it's a remarkable way to experience the world, it imposes social limitations. Movie theaters are apparently reluctant to admit Mr. Harbission, fearing that his camera will allow him to record films. He's also been turned away from the famous Harrods department store in London, and thrown out of grocery stores.

Cyborg Hate Crimes

Harbission's difficulties carry shades of last year's incident in France, in which McDonald's employees, reportedly assaulted a professor with an augmented reality implant. Their motivation? He claims they were afraid that he was filming the store's menu..

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