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Felix // Vimeo

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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ABBA Is Going on Tour—As Holograms
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AFP/Stringer/Getty Images

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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Cinera
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This VR Headset Promises a Movie-Viewing Experience That Rivals Theaters
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Cinera

Movies in 2017 are typically viewed one of two ways: on a big screen in the theater or from the comfort of your home. A new VR headset called Cinera claims to combine the best of both experiences. As Mashable reports, the device, currently seeking support on Kickstarter, lets viewers enjoy theater-quality home entertainment without so much as lifting their heads, let alone a finger.

Unlike other VR headsets on the market, Cinera is designed primarily for watching movies and TV shows rather than playing video games. Inside there are two screens—one for each eye—which create a 3D, IMAX-like effect. According to the product’s Kickstarter page, the picture resolution is eight times that of an iPhone and three times that of a professional theater screen. And because Cinera is all about enjoying theater-quality media in the comfort of a home setting, it includes one vital feature most VR headsets don’t have: an adjustable arm that holds up the hardware so your head doesn’t have to.

With less than a week to go in the campaign, Cinera has already surpassed its $50,000 funding goal at least five times over. Cinephiles looking for a different type of VR experience can reserve their headset for a pledge of $450 with shipments set to go out in November.

[h/t Mashable]

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