Neuroscientist David Eagleman and one of his graduate students at the Baylor College of Medicine, Scott Novich, have developed a new kind of vest that incorporates modern technology to improve the human senses. This “sensory vest” not only looks like a traditional vest, but the word is also an acronym for its technological components. Experts believe the VEST, or variable extra-sensory transducer, will revolutionize technology, healthcare and the ways we use and collect data. Using the vest, people can improve their senses while using collected data to improve their health and surroundings.
The sensory vest looks similar in design to a traditional vest but also includes vibrating nodes that are able to deliver information in pulses to the consumer’s back. The vibrations trigger a response from the brain, where the information is received and processed. The purpose and function of the sensory vest is to deliver real-time information to individuals wearing the vest. VEST will sync with tablets, allowing the tablet to convert information, such as alerts, temperatures, words, and much more into digital data that will then be delivered in pulse form via the vest.
Eagleman hopes the vest will soon broaden our senses by giving people another way to get information. For example, the vibrating nodes on the vest can allow the deaf to “hear” via phonetic vibrations. The sensory vest would also enable users to “feel” data and information, such as a jump in stock prices or a change in body functioning.
By collecting and monitoring data, the vest can also provide relevant data information for a variety of industries, such as medicine, technology, homes, fitness, weather pattern and even outer space observations. As big data collection and analysis becomes more prevalent in medicine, VEST can help doctors to manage patient records which would be even more accessible.
The initial sensory vest developed at Eagleman’s lab in Houston has a natural appearance, fit, and practical uses. However, more refined models may look more like a true vest with less visible, or even invisible, electronics and wiring. It will be up to designers to deliver future products that have more aesthetic appeal, yet maintain or even improve the access to information that the current model provides.
The sensory vest has a number of benefits and has the potential to transform big data and the ways that people experience the world. A consumer version of VEST costing less than $1,000 is expected to be ready for market within eight months. If proven effective, this vest is just the beginning–the uses are endless, and the form can only continue to evolve and improve.
Learn more about VEST by watching this TED Talk from its creator David Eagleman.