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Don’t Just Read That Book, Feel It

on Friday, Mar. 7th

When you head over to FastCo.Design to read up on the Sensory Fiction project produced by four MIT students I want you to focus on one phrase: “wearable book.”

There’s a term I feel lucky to have lived long enough to see in print.

Controlled by an Arduino microprocessor, the vest swells, contracts, vibrates, heats up or cools down as the pages of the book are turned. As the protagonist of the story comes into conflict, the vest mirrors her physical or emotional changes in the reader. A particularly sad page might cause the vest’s in-built air bags to expand, rendering the reader tight chested; when the plot heats up, the vest might make a reader sweat.

Sensory Fiction is inspired by two stories. One is a personal all-time favorite, Neil Stephenson’s The Diamond Age. The other just shot to the top of my too-read list: the James Tiptree, Jr. novella The Girl Who Was Plugged In which is “about a future in which the desperate are allowed to pay to take over the bodies of attractive human vessels.”

Image Source: MIT’s Science Fiction to Science Fabrication class

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