The movie theaters have seen all effects get enhanced, from audio and video, to 3D and special effects, but the plain old book has only seen its years weigh heavy on their pages as they get passed on from one hand to another. But researchers from MIT’s Media Lab have found a way to develop a new experience for the reader of printed words, having a project named “Sensory Fiction” in the works.
The concept involves wearing a vest covered in sensors and actuators that uses vibration to simulate shivering or an increased heart rate, local heating to change your skin temperature and pressure from airbags to convey tightness and loosening. This vest is paired with a book, which also has LEDs to create ambient lighting which will show specific lights and colors altogether with each page and feeling it is supposed to express.
No ordinary book, this version of the award-winning sci-fi novel ‘The Girl Who Was Plugged In’ can sense what page you’re currently reading, and feed that information to a control unit mounted on the back of the vest to create vibration, pressure, or heat in sync with story beats. It is said that just by reading ‘The Girl Who Was Plugged’ should be enough to provoke an emotional response from most, but the researchers hope the vest-and-book combo can enhance a reader’s experience through external stimuli.
As Sensory Fiction is only in prototype stages, there’s no telling if the team has achieved its lofty goal yet, however the concept at least poses some interesting questions as to the future of immersive storytelling.