I first read about sensory fiction a few days ago through Google News. I just read an article on the HLN TV website titled Virtual empathy: Book lets you feel characters' pain by Karyn Lu. In the article, Lu writes the following about 'Sensory Fiction':
Appropriately named “Sensory Fiction,” an interesting project out of MIT is designed to do exactly that. The setup (a prototype) is a book-plus-vest combo, where an e-book is plugged into the vest, which is worn by the reader. The book is outfitted with numerous LED lights for ambient lighting, and it too was carefully chosen: a digital version of James Tiptree Jr.’s 1974 sci-fi novella “The Girl Who Was Plugged In.”I don't know about you, but the entire notion of 'Sensory Fiction' really creeps me out!! I don't need or even want to be hooked up to some device to feel emotions or have a sensory experience. I'm already quite familiar with a wide range of human emotions, thank you very much.... And I'm also quite familiar wide a wide range of physical sensations as well and once again do not need some machine showing me what something feels like.
According to the project video, "The book senses the current page, and changes the ambient lighting and vibration to match the mood." In addition, the connected vest features a body compression system, heartbeat and shiver simulator, and localized body temperature controls -- all working together to induce and simulate various emotions in sync with the story arc.
According to the four students who created the project: "Traditionally, fiction creates and induces emotions and empathy through words and images. By using a combination of networked sensors and actuators, the Sensory Fiction author is provided with new means of conveying plot, mood, and emotion while still allowing space for the reader’s imagination."
Call me old fashion, but let me read a book and feel/experience the emotions or physical sensations I envision with my own mind's eye... Not emotions or physical sensations which are artificially induced by a machine!
What are your thoughts about 'Sensory Fiction'?