Versatile Extra-Sensory Transducer, or VEST for short, is a wearable vest that communicates sound to the brain using the sense of touch. Sound is captured and processed on a smartphone, while the data is then sent over Bluetooth and played in real-time using a series of vibration motors. The goal is to leverage the promise of sensory substitution in the realm of hearing, using the latest algorithms and hardware.
According to Dr. David Eagleman, a neuroscientist at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas and his graduate student Scott Novich, VEST will be powerful enough to “give deaf individuals a new ‘sense’ of hearing.” Their hypothesize that their device will work for deaf individuals, and even be good enough to provide a new perception of hearing.
The VEST can have numerous societal benefits.The VEST can have numerous societal benefits from cost effectiveness, discreteness, freedom to wearer for not be attached to it all the time, to enormous potentials to distribute it widely in developing countries.
What’s more, the ability to feed all sorts of new and profound sensory information into our brains can change tremendously our usage of social networks and news such as Twitter, stock markets, the weather, and beyond.
Dr. Eagleman and Novich have developed a working prototype and have great preliminary data. The duo is looking to raise $40,000 in a Kickstarter campaign to complete the prototype design and refine costs, as well as to fund graduate student salaries for this research.