Next Senses

Augment your senses

The world we live in changes constantly, but the senses we use to perceive it remain the same. Next Senses explores the unchartered territory of how we could experience the world with technology.

A future foresight

Imagine you could communicate telepathically with a whale, listen to the WiFi networks in your environment, or experience smells through seeing color. Developments in technology give us the rare opportunity to expand and augment our sensorial capabilities, and relate to other (non-)human life forms in various hybrid forms. Ask yourself; if you could have another sense, which would you choose?

Next senses, today

Some attempts have already been made to expand our perception with ‘next’ senses. Cyborg artist Neil Harbisson has a camera mounted on his head that translates colors into a vibration that he can hear, allowing him to hear colors. Cybernetics professor Kevin Warwack has implanted sensors in the nerves of his left arm, which communicate with the sensors in his wife’s hand, allowing them to share the feeling of touch. There is also a group of people, so-called grinders or bio-hackers, who experiment with DIY magnetic implants with which they can detect electromagnetic fields.

Five augmented senses

Next Senses is an ongoing research project that consists of five future scenarios, set in parallel worlds where biology and technology have fully merged.

#1 Synesthesia

Synesthesia is a rare phenomenon where a sensation in one of the senses, such as smell, triggers a sensation in another, such as sight. Synesthetes can taste sounds, smell colors or even see scents. Now, synesthesia could be made widely accessible through technology. Imagine how your perception of the world would change when you can see certain scents.

 

#2 Electronic Empathy

For people who experience difficulties in identifying and describing feelings, the world can be a confusing place. They may experience an emotion, but are unsure which emotion it is. Electronic Empathy is a ‘third-eye’ implant that runs on facial recognition algorithms and is directly projected onto its users’ sight. It may help those in need detect the emotion they were looking for in the first place.

 

#3 Skin Waves

While humans have sought to discover, name, chart and plot every inch of land on the planet, the deepest depths of our oceans remain unknown. Skin Waves allows its user to feel the frequencies of whale sounds coursing through their bones, enabling a multispecies relationship as a way to deepen their spiritual relationship to nature.

#4 Baby Code

The link between a parent and child is profound, both physical and emotional factors influence the parent-child bonding process, and this bond can only strengthen over time. Baby Code imagines a future in which parents can use sensor technology that allows them to cater exactly what their newborn needs.

#5 WiFi Angels

WiFi radiation is all around, yet invisible to our human senses. Imagine you could hear WiFi. Every area has its own soundscape. Streets, parks, subways, hotels, highways and beaches all sound different. WiFi Angels allows its user to sense electromagnetic radiations by turning the WiFi networks around them into a choir of singing angels.

Book a talk on Next Senses

What senses can we develop to look at our world from an alternative perspective? Next Nature talks present a richer understanding of nature. Our speakers present inspiring Stories for Change: new narratives on possible and preferable futures in which biology and technology are fusing. Curious?

 

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Credits
  1. © Next Nature Network, 2019

    Creative Direction: Lisanne Buik
    Production: Tim Hoogesteger, Next Nature Network
    Art Direction: Alain de Bruijn
    Actors: Jason Winter (WiFi Angels), Hester Beek (Synesthesia), Andy Chaleff (Electronic Empathy), Lisanne Buik (Skin Waves), Levange en Evaly Hermus (Baby Code)
    Advisors: Koert van Mensvoort, Rolf Swolfs
    Commissioner: City Senses