Hack the Senses - Hackathon

The Hack the Senses hackathon was themed around perception and the senses and took place 24-26 June in FabLab, the City of London’s first purpose built digital fabrication and rapid prototyping workspace. The event was organized within the framework of a Wellcome Trust public engagement project that explores the ways in which sensory augmentation technology can expand the scope of human perception. Participants were given the challenge of prototyping new devices and applications that augment an existing sense, allow us to acquire a new sense, or translate between sensory modalities. In order to accomplish this, they were provided with a broad range of equipment, such as microcontrollers of different types and sizes, a variety of sensors, from heat, through light, UV, IR, touch, force, etc., as well thermal imaging cameras, vibrating motors, heat pads, and other goodies. In addition, they also had access to virtual and augmented reality headsets and brain-computer interfaces. The event turned out to be a great success and participants brought a very interesting mix of backgrounds and skills, from neuroscience and psychology through coding and engineering to art and design. Close to 40% of attendees were female. The Code for Good prize was awarded to a team called Belka, whose project is capable of adapting an audiovisual VR environment on the basis of a person’s brain activity recorded via an OpenBCI EEG kit. The prototypes coming out of the event will be used in a string of public engagement activities in the United Kingdom to facilitate discussions about the possibilities and significance of sensory augmentation technologies. We are grateful to Intel for sponsoring a prize at our event!

 

Team Belka - Winners of the Code for Good prize working on their prototype

 

Hack the Senses participants immersed in their work
Help from Dr Giles Hamilton-Fletcher on prototyping sensory augmentation hardware
A new way to do vision to sound sensory substitution
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