We used to talk much about the mind-body connection. Today we are talking much more about what I call the mind-body-computer connection (MBCC). Rapid scientific advances coupled with extremely fast computer processing power are allowing us to go down this hitherto untraveled path. The benefits promise to be inconceivable. Drake Bennett describes one of the latest astonishing examples produced by a Wisconsin company, Wicab (“Computing That Makes You Feel” Bloomberg Businessweek, 3/4/13–3/10/13, pp. 34–36):
“Wicab . . . has designed a small, square array of electrodes for the blind. When placed on the tongue like a lollipop, it turns the feed from a video camera into a pointillist pattern of tactile stimulation. The sensation is like sparkling water, or Pop Rocks candy, but after time and practice, blind users report the paradoxical sensation of seeing with their tongues.” (p. 34)
Another aspect of this developing field is the contention that a keyboard, screen, and mouse are not inherently the best means with which to interface our computing devices. All sorts of things are developing to address this. For example, Leap Motion (a San Francisco startup):
“has developed a small Kinect-like device to replace the mouse, so that pointing, dragging, dropping, and shaping forms on a screen will be something you do with your hands in space before your monitor, like a sorcerer.”
Another vanguard example, although a bit more mundane, is from Ambient Devices. Its consumer product, the Energy Orb, glows in different colors based on the real-time cost of electricity. Such coloration changes might remind folks to change the thermostat setting. Bennett calls this:
“pre-attentive processing, the ability to pick up on things beyond the margins of conscious attention.”
The MBCC is here to stay. It will likely become increasingly complex because the technological and human opportunities are limitless. To me, that means the future is bright. Harnessed correctly, the MBCC promises to make our lives more efficient and effective.