Prototype: Sensing the Sun through Vibration

I finished building the first prototype: a device that allows me to navigate the “lightscape” while feeling with my skin where the brightest direction is. This simple media system allows me to be affected by the Sun (and by light in general) through a different pathway. The idea is to experiment with the possibility of enabling a new sense, opening new channels of transmission between bodies.

WHAT DOES IT CONSIST OF?

It consists of four light sensors (one in each side of my body, one on my back and one under my chin), a microcontroller and three motors. The microcontroller is constantly comparing the values from the light sensors and deciding what’s the direction my body is receiving more light from. If it’s in front of me, nothing happens, an LED lights up for monitoring. If it comes from any of the other three directions then the right motor will vibrate giving me a sense of where to seek exposure.

THE EXPERIENCE
I haven’t really had the time to play with it much but I did go for a little walk on the park. Surprisingly the experience was much more interesting than I thought. Before testing it I thought vision and haptic sensation would be both providing the same sort of information and therefore the latter would be redundant. In fact, as we all know, information is not independent from its medium. You cannot get the same information through different channels. Opening a new channel, you open to new information. Furthermore, very often I found myself visually disoriented with regards to where the brightest direction might be and the haptic sensation provided a very tactile and direct way of navigating light.

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