What would the world be like if we could expand our senses beyond the capacities that we come to the table with? To explore this possibility, we feed sensory signals into the brain through atypical sensory pathways. For example, we can address the limitations of deafness by turning auditory information into a series of vibrating patterns on the skin. This is done via Buzz, a small wristband with vibratory motors in the band. But Buzz isn’t only for hearing loss: we’re using it to feed in all kinds of information streams, from infrared to olfactory information to the stock market. Using this approach of sensory substitution, we can translate and feed almost any kind of data through the skin – thus expanding the human sensory experience.
David Eagleman is a neuroscientist, an internationally bestselling author, a Guggenheim Fellow, and an adjunct professor at Stanford University. He is the writer and presenter of The Brain, an Emmy-nominated television series on PBS and BBC. Dr. Eagleman’s areas of research include sensory substitution, time perception, vision, and synesthesia; he also studies the intersection of neuroscience with the legal system, and in that capacity he directs the Center for Science and Law. Eagleman is the author of many books, including The Runaway Species, The Brain, Incognito, and Wednesday is Indigo Blue. He is also the author of a widely adopted textbook on cognitive neuroscience, Brain and Behavior, as well as a bestselling book of literary fiction, Sum, which has been translated into 32 languages, turned into two operas, and named a Best Book of the Year by Barnes and Noble. Dr. Eagleman writes for the Atlantic, New York Times, Discover Magazine, Slate, Wired, and New Scientist, and appears regularly on National Public Radio and BBC to discuss both science and literature. He has been a TED speaker, a guest on the Colbert Report, and profiled in the New Yorker magazine. He has spun several companies out of his lab, including NeoSensory, a company which uses haptics for sensory substitution and addition.
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