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Sensory Fiction: Read Your Books and Feel Them Too

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Felix // Vimeo

In Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, good citizens attend the feelies—movies that allow them to feel the warmth of a bear rug or the flutter of a kiss. While it might seem as if this can only exist in the fictional world of 2540, researchers at MIT’s Media Lab have created technology that might bring this sci-fi closer to reality: Felix Heibeck, Alexis Hope, and Julie Legault developed what they call "Sensory Fiction," a vest that hooks up to an e-reader and helps readers feel what the characters in a book experience.

The vest includes networked sensors and actuators, which change the reader’s mood and environment to match the book. Sensory Fiction has 150 programmable LEDs to change lighting, sound to create ambient noise, a heating device to influence body temperature, sensors to create vibrations to quicken or slow heart rate, and a compression system to restrict the chest. These work in concert to influence the reader’s feelings. When a character becomes frightened, for example, the vest increases the heart rate and restricts the chest so the reader experiences the feeling of fear, too.

They tested their technology with The Girl Who Was Plugged In by James Tiptree.

SENSORY FICTION from Felix on Vimeo.

On the Sensory Fiction website, the researchers write, “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. These tools can be wielded to create an immersive storytelling experience tailored to the reader.”

They also admit that while they’re excited that the prototype works, they have no plans to mass produce Sensory Fiction. They think of it merely as a way to spark debate.

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Beware of This New Phishing Scam Targeting Netflix Customers
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Between binge watching 30 Rock, Louie, and all the other TV shows soon leaving Netflix, keep your eyes peeled for a sneaky phishing scam that’s currently targeting the streaming platform’s customers.

As WGN-TV reports, subscribers have reported receiving fake (yet very official-looking) emails that appear to come from Netflix, informing them that their account has been temporarily disabled due to billing problems. To “reactivate” it, they’re occasionally instructed to update their payment information by clicking on a link that leads them to a fake website. Other times, they’re asked to send these details by email.

For the uninitiated, schemes like these are designed to give hackers direct access to your personal banking details, and can lead to a case of credit card or identity theft. So if you’ve received a billing email that appears to be from Netflix, take the time to vet it to see if it’s legit. Always check who the sender is by hovering your cursor over their email address, and above all, never click on any links that are included in the message's body. (Bad grammar and typos are also a giveaway that some "customer service" emails aren't 100 percent real.)

If the message is, indeed, suspect, log into your Netflix account directly. Then, you'll able to see whether or not the warning was real. If you have fallen victim to the scheme, don’t despair—but do remember to keep a close eye on your bank transactions, change your passwords, and touch base with your bank if anything fishy (or phish-y) occurs.

In the meantime, Netflix has advised members to learn more about keeping their personal info safe against phishing scams by visiting Netflix.com/security, or by contacting customer service directly, according to Good Housekeeping.

[h/t WGN-TV]

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ABBA Is Going on Tour—As Holograms
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Missed your chance to watch ABBA perform live at the peak of their popularity? You’re in luck: Fans will soon be able to see the group in concert in all their chart-topping, 1970s glory—or rather, they’ll be able to see their holograms. As Mashable reports, a virtual version of the Swedish pop band is getting ready to go on tour.

ABBA split up in 1982, and the band hasn't been on tour since. (Though they did get together for a surprise reunion performance in 2016.) All four members of ABBA are still alive, but apparently not up for reentering the concert circuit when they can earn money on a holographic tour from the comfort of their homes.

The musicians of ABBA have already had the necessary measurements taken to bring their digital selves to life. The final holograms will resemble the band in the late 1970s, with their images projected in front of physical performers. Part of the show will be played live, but the main vocals will be lifted from original ABBA records and recordings of their 1977 Australian tour.

ABBA won’t be the first musical act to perform via hologram. Tupac Shakur, Michael Jackson, and Dean Martin have all been revived using the technology, but this may be one of the first times computerized avatars are standing in for big-name performers who are still around. ABBA super-fans will find out if “SOS” still sounds as catchy from the mouths of holograms when the tour launches in 2019.

[h/t Mashable]

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