Once upon a time there was a book that would make you feel what the characters in it felt every time you opened its pages. Sound like the stuff of fairytales? Actually, this story is straight up non-fiction. Or… Sensory Fiction as the wearable, readable project from MIT’s Media Lab is dubbed.
We all know the feeling of being totally immersed in a good page-turner, but this takes it to the next level with a book you don’t just read, you experience. The reader straps on a high tech-looking vest equipped with a compression system, localized body temperature control and heartbeat and shiver simulator. As you read, they vibrate, change temperature and alter pressure while the cover’s 150 LED lights put on their own show.
Flip the pages and the vest and book activate as they sense where you are in the story. The book takes care of the atmosphere with ambient lighting that sets the mood of your character’s journey. Subtle changes on the vest are meant to make you feel what that protagonist is experiencing — physically and emotionally. It might vibrate to speed up your heart rate during an angry fight scene. Pressurized airbags could constrict when your leading lady is afraid. The personal heating device at your collarbone might warm you during a love scene.
If we had this at our disposal, our next book club would be a read-aloud.
We’ve been following the advancements in wearable tech, but this is a whole new chapter that we hope we see a part two to very shortly. When this project eventually becomes a reality (or at least a Kickstarter!) we wonder what books we would line up to be “sensored” first? Any that we know already make a good movie, like The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Classics like Gone With the Wind. 50 Shades of (gulp!) Grey for good measure?!
What book would you want to read (or re-read!) wearing Sensory Fiction? Do you think augmented reality in reading will enhance or take away from the experience of enjoying a gook book? Sound off below!
(Beautiful photos courtesy: flickr/MIT!)