A group of students from the Royal College of Art in London has developed headsets that allow the wearer to adjust their sight and hearing in the same way they'd control the settings on a TV or radio (+ movie).
The Eidos equipment was developed to enhance sensory perception by tuning in to specific sounds or images amongst a barrage of sonic and visual information, then applying effects to enhance the important ones.
"We've found that while we experience the world as many overlapping signals, we can use technology to first isolate and then amplify the one we want," say the designers.
The first device is a mask that fits over the mouth and ears to let the wearer hear speech more selectively. A directional microphone captures the audio, which is processed by software to neutralise background noise.
It's then transmitted to the listener through headphones and a central mouthpiece, which passes the isolated sound directly to the inner ear via bone vibrations. "This creates the unique sensation of hearing someone talk right inside your head," they say.
The second device fits over the eyes and applies special effects - like those seen in long-exposure photography - to what the wearer is seeing in real-time. A head-mounted camera captures the imagery and sends it to a computer, where it's processed by custom software to detect and overlay movement.
It's then played to the wearer inside the headset, allowing them to see patterns and traces of movement that would normally be undetectable.
Possible applications could include sports, allowing teams to visualise and improve technique in real time, and performing arts where effects normally limited to video could be applied to live performance.
The audio equipment could enable concert-goers to enhance specific elements of a band or orchestra. The designers also suggest that filtering out distracting background noise could improve focus in the classroom for children with ADHD and assist elderly people as their natural hearing ability deteriorates.
Two prototypes styled with faceted surfaces and graduated perforations were presented at the Work in Progress exhibition at the Royal College of Art earlier this year. "Our final objects convey the mixing of digital technology with the organic human body," explain the team.
Other projects about enhancing sensory perception on Dezeen include cutlery shaped to stimulate diners' full range of senses and alter the taste of food, and masks that let the wearer experience the world from the perspective of different animals.
Other wearable technology we're reported on includes a camera that automatically photographs moments of your life that are worth remembering and the Google Glass headset that overlays what you're seeing with information from the internet.
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