If you saw David Eagleman’s watch, you might think it was a smart watch, but in reality, it’s something much more complex. The watch prototype, called Buzz, was created by Eagleman’s startup, Neosensory, and it translates sounds into vibrations on the wrist in real time, like sonically induced braille.
Eagleman has devoted his life to understanding how human perceptions shape behavior. His inspiration for Buzz came from his interest in synesthesia, a neurological condition in which one sense gets substituted for another. The new tool is logically a tool for the deaf, but it does so much more. It can detect information that typically eludes human senses like ultraviolet and infrared light. It can also translate stock market fluctuations in real time. A larger, full body suit called VEST is an expansion of Buzz. The coolest part? Anyone can learn the language of these signals and interpret them with just a few days of practice.
While many species, such as bats and ticks, use heightened senses other than sight to interpret the world around them, what is astonishing about Buzz and VEST is that it shows, as Eagleman says: “If you feed the brain a pattern, eventually it’ll figure out how to decode the information.”
The potential applications of the devices are far beyond helping those with hearing impairments. It could allow humans to smell what highly trained dogs do, allow surgeons to receive bio-data without checking monitors, and help pilots to better navigate in the dark.
Buzz is on sale now for $589. Even better, the devices are being released with an open API — meaning anyone can run their own experiments with the technology. We at The Optimist Daily can’t wait to see what further discoveries stem from this fascinating innovation.