How well can you focus? How strong or disciplined is your brain? If the question makes you sigh in despair, don’t worry, it’s not you; it’s the human brain itself that needs to take breaks quite often before it refocuses. Technology and the stimuli it has been continuously generating does not help either. However, the brain has quite a bit of untapped potential, which means that it can be trained to perceive information that is not readily available through the five senses.
Training the Brain
Laura Bücheler and Isabella Hillmer, the two founders behind early-stage startup GHOST are determined to train the brain to pick up individual stimuli and make sense out of them. They started with a mere hypothesis: what if amputees could feel their prosthetic body part? Would it be feasible to transmit information from the prosthesis to another part of the body? Laura, who has a background in Biomedical Engineering, was convinced that this was technically feasible, but she did wonder whether the brain can process information accurately. Isabella whose experience is in Neuropsychology thought that the brain could do it but doubted that technology would manage to come up with a solution.
Fast-forward to now, and GHOST presented their innovative solution at Wear It Innovation Summit in Berlin. They have managed to create a sort of sixth sense, designed to broaden or expand human perception. The startup has done this by developing a haptic smart shirt and a haptic language that can translate complex information into vibration patterns. These patterns are then optimised to become intuitive and easier for the human body to perceive and interpret.
For example, you are driving, and you are lost in your thoughts. You are not paying attention to the indications on the car panel in front of you. You might be speeding up without realising. Now imagine GHOST, which is integrated into your car seat, vibrating on the left side of your back, to tell you to slow down. Alternatively, vibrating on the right side, to say to you that you need to find a gas station soon because you are running out of fuel.
GHOST tested the solution with a smart glove solution that can sense information such as pressure, finger bending and temperature. Targeting a specific group, the founders created a intelligent glove that is capable of helping people wearing prosthetic body parts. It allows the wearer wearing the smart glove to feel their prosthesis, even when they were not looking.
Currently, the founders are focusing their production efforts on a smart shirt, which can work the same way as the smart glove. It will be able to train the mind and enhance the perception in such a way that it could sense radiation exposure, pollution or any other information that cannot be easily perceived by the five senses we already have. The German startup is already in discussing pilot projects with customers in the automotive industry such as Porsche.
Looking towards the future, the startup hopes that their haptic user interfaces will be integrated into an array of products from Wearables to Gaming and Medical Devices, they also have interest from remote-controlled robotics and prosthesis manufacturers. They promise that future products powered by their technology will enable us to sense anything from robotics to radiation.