Technology has not only changed our everyday lives, it has also enhanced the experience of our senses – all five of them. Progressing at an unprecedented rate, the stuff of dreams is already here in forms, devices, gadgets and apps we never imagined. Since the best experiences engage all our senses at once, these innovations are shaping the digital world to be more like the real world – for better or for worse.
When it comes to visual technology, television entertainment systems are probably the most commonly used. And while every TV claims to be the best, LG’s new OLED display is undoubtedly unique. This TV is unbelievably thin (less than 1 cm) thanks to its self-lighting pixels. The TV also produces vibrant colors and exceptional contrast. Each pixel can be turned off, so black has never been blacker and images are more life-like. It’s also 3D so your eyes can feast on stunning images all around.
Sound can be divided into two parts: quality and content. To achieve the highest possible quality sound one must understand sound waves, and it’s this science that has been applied to the intelligent BeoLab 90 loudspeaker. Containing a multitude of advancements, the 360-degree design measures acoustic effects on its surroundings to direct the perfect sound for your listening position, compensating for walls, objects and location, and allowing you to control sound for different listening situations like watching films versus having a party. The question of content has also been addressed by Bang & Olufsen with the BeoSound Moment, a smart music system that integrates your music with streaming services. It literally knows what you want to listen to. Choose your mood and it creates the perfect, customized atmosphere for you. The more you use its wooden touch interface to indicate whether you love or hate a song the more it gets to know you, and provides the right music for your sonic pleasure.
Digital scent is a thing. Though in their infancy, gadgets, apps and devices that produce and send smells to other devices are already on the market – and that market is expected to reach $1.2 billion in the next 10 years. One of its pioneers is the oPhone device (no relation to iPhone and family) and its corresponding oNote app. It’s sort of like choosing a track on a music player – but for your nose. The oPhone has scent-filled cartridges that produce gentle puffs of aroma as indicated by the app. Smell is one of the most emotive of the senses, helping us wake up, calm down and feel good or bad, and with this development everything from storytelling and watching movies to sending messages will be more enriching and emotional.
Food. It keeps us alive and – for the foodies – gives us a reason to live. So imagine 3D printed food. There are skeptics but the possibilities are definitely fascinating. A variety of food printers are being developed, making everything from gummy bears and cookies to potentially meat (which would have a huge impact on livestock farming and thus, climate), and personally-tailored meals for the elderly and ill. We’re not sure about the actual taste component in these foods but this is a whole new world of technology in the taste-bud related sensory segment.
Haptics is the science of touch and haptic technology uses “feel” signals that create a vibration on the skin. This new frontier of user interface is communication that recreates the sense of touch, sending data from gadgets and wearables straight to the body. So instead of hearing or seeing a message, you feel taps. It’s not exactly new in the gaming sphere, but the masses are being introduced to haptics thanks to the Apple Watch and other increasingly popular devices, and we can expect to see much more in the future.
The 6th Sense
The 6th sense, of course, is the sense of style. Wearable tech is not only entering your home, it’s also venturing onto the catwalk. All the famous fashion weeks got increasingly techie in 2015, from the LED-strewn “Jellyfish Dress” by Richard Nicoll, to a dress and app combo created by CuteCircuit that changes prints and colors, and Hussein Chalayan’s dissolving fabrics – not to mention an off-catwalk company called BioCouture that’s making biological materials using microorganisms.