Wearable book lets you feel characters’ emotions

Credit: Sensory Fiction

Wearable tech is everywhere these days. From Google Glass to smart watches to headbands that monitor brain waves, the future is meant to be worn. So what comes next? How about a wearable book that you strap on that allows you to feel characters’ emotions as you read?

That’s right, if you want to experience every high and low of the A Song of Ice and Fire books, strap on an accompanying harness, read the books and keep your tissues (and a punching bag) handy.

So how does this book, called Sensory Fiction, work? The MIT team started with a story appropriately called “The Girl Who Was Plugged In,” written by James Tiptree Jr. Throughout the story, the main character goes through a wide variety of emotions, such as love and despair, as well as physical sensations, like coldness and warmth.

A harness accompanies the book that you put over your torso. This harness includes LEDs to recreate the lighting from the story, small heating devices to warm the skin, vibrating mechanisms that affect heart rate and a compression system with airbags that tighten and loosen, based on what’s going on in the story.

Of course, this harness only really mimics physical sensations, so how effective is it at re-creating emotions? That’s anyone’s guess, but the class the MIT students developed the project for asks that very question. The description for the project states:

“Traditionally, fiction creates and induces emotions and empathy through words and images… the Sensory Fiction author is provided with new means of conveying plot, mood, and emotion while still allowing space for the reader’s imagination.”

Wearing a book and experiencing a story in a more immersive way might be fun, but I really hope it doesn’t come with a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey.


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