Extrasensory prosthetic devices

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Jake Dunagan, my Institute for the Future colleague, pointed me to the "extrasensory" work of designer/researcher Susanna Hertrich. Part of Hertrich's PhD research at the Royal College of Art involved the prototyping of "Fear Tuners," prostheses that translate stressful data into tactile sensations that "simulate the autonomous nervous system." The concept reminds me of the tactile messaging vest devised by MIT researchers. From Hertrich's project page:
Fear Tuners are worn on the body. They use the skin as interface to stimulate the autonomous nervous system. Fear tuners can be subscribed to a specific fear scenario...

These experiments are aimed to explore whether our natural inability to assess deferred dangers could be replaced by devices. The objects are a set of prostheses for instincts that we have not yet been developed.
Fear Tuners


  1. You are assuming politicians actually have a spine on which to place sensors on either side of.

  2. A weighted piezo disk may be a cheaper alternative to perform the same action that tiny motors would. Neat idea.

  3. #2, the Cylons lost this technology in the second season, along with the concept of non-soap-operatic plot advancement.

  4. #2, #4 – Presumably this project, as well the designers of the Cylons’ erotic nightlight, live in fear of legal action from the producers of Species.

  5. I always wondered about how Six managed to boink Baltar for ages without him noticing her spine lighting up like a Christmas tree. Guess he never did her from behind.

  6. Used to have a Citroen BX when I lived in UK and under certain speed/rpm/road texture conditions the seat frame would vibrate against my back in just the right way to make it feel like I was scared of something. Very strange bio-feedback.

    It would probably make for a good alert warning system when speeding on dodgy roads, entering a bad part of town, approaching a fast-food joint etc.

  7. this reminds me of something from the Hitch Hiker’s Guide:

    “Joo Janta 200 Super-Chromatic Peril Sensitive Sunglasses have been specially designed to help people develop a relaxed attitude to danger. At the first hint of trouble, they turn totally black and thus prevent you from seeing anything that might alarm you.”

  8. What a sinister idea! As if the human race would be improved by becoming completely dependent on machines… but I’m being inconsistent. As a prophet of the coming kill-bot apocalypse I wholeheartedly endorse this idea. While Skynet floods your (descendents) nervous systems with conflicting data, robots will overcome mankind!

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