Thursday, February 6, 2014

Unfortunate inventions

So, in choosing a blog topic, have you ever been delighted to find an article that seemed like a perfect point for an interesting and lengthy discussion on a blog post? And then, upon blog post writing day, discovered that you not only forgot to bookmark the link, but also neglected to recall a single detail about the article except that you thought it would make a perfect blog post?

Or maybe that's just me.

::head desk::

So instead, let's all laugh at the following invention that I read about on NPR this morning:

Here's the description from the article.
By combining networked sensors and actuators, the wearable can change lighting, sound, temperature, chest tightness and even heart rate of the reader to match what the main character in the book is going through.
"Changes in the protagonist's emotional or physical state [trigger] discrete feedback in the wearable, whether by changing the heartbeat rate, creating constriction through air pressure bags, or causing localized temperature fluctuations," the designers explain.
Well, sheesh, for $20 I'll come and flick your living room lights and your heating system on and off for you. For a little extra, if you're reading something like Ethan Frome, Of Mice and Men, or The Fault in Our Stars, I'll come punch you in the gut at the appropriate point in the book. 

Also, that whole part about how this vest lets you experience the same things that the character does? I've actually got something like that already. It's called my imagination. I don't need something expanding and contracting around my torso at odd intervals to distract me. And at this point, the invention isn't for sale, just "intended to promote discussion."

And I also like this point, from a different article about the invention.
"Books affect our minds; that's the sort of machines books are. The urge to make the books directly effect [sic] our bodies as well is a sort of category error. A massage, or a fairground ride, or the sort of rock concert where there are so many speakers you feel every chord vibrating through your chest: they're all fine. But they aren't offering the sorts of pleasures that are uniquely bookish," said Roberts. "Emotions that start in the head and move into the body are far more effective than faux-emotional responses mimicked by flashing lights and pressure pads."
But I'm sure this sort of thing is coming anyway. Perhaps even more sensory details will be added. Let's also consider the novels that might be less popular when technology makes us able to experience what the characters go through:

-Saw: a novelization of the movie
-The Stand
-The Silence of the Lambs

Surely we, as a world, can do better than this for innovative book inventions. But I destroyed my brain trying to remember whatever article I was originally going to post about. Do you all have any ideas? 


*(Attention Sheena and Melanie, I think I just found the perfect career for Juliette!)


  1. Yeah, I wonder if the inventor of the wearable book actually reads books.


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