In your everyday life, do you yourself use technology to improve how you see, hear, or use other senses?
Beau Lotto, a neuroscientist, and founder of ‘Lotto Lab’ investigates how we perceive the world with our senses and brains. His optical illusions force any viewers to question what they have always taken for granted.
Beau Lotto: Optical illusions show how we see
Sense perception refers to “any of the faculties of sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch, by which the body perceives an external stimulus.” In other words, we use these senses to recognise and respond to external stimuli. We use all of our senses constantly to smell, taste, touch, see or hear things in our environment, nevertheless there are some people who lack some senses, and are deprived from that specific type of sensory perception. For example, blind, deaf and mute people. These are some cases that most people are born with, but one can develop degenerative sensory perception. This can be witnessed with hearing and sight loss as one ages, diseases such as ALS that affect touch and muscle movement. Despite these second examples, there are ways to restore those senses and even to enhance them using technology.
I believe we don’t realise that we also use technology on a regular basis to improve our senses, even if we don’t have any sensory imparements. For many people with a defective sense, technology might be a necessity, such as:
A pair of glasses or contact lenses for a person in need of visual aid (the lenses become “part of the body” as it’s forgotten by the user)
A hearing aid for people suffering from hearing loss
A cane for a blind man to use as an extension of his arm, not as a tool but as a part of his body
For others, it can simply be a common object that refines one of a persons’ senses. Essentially, these are tools that assist our defective senses or enhance our regular senses.
Some technological items that help improve my senses that are crucial for me are:
Telephone/Computer: Enables me to keep in contact with friends living the same place I am or even in. Improves visual, auditory and tactile senses in a way. This is because they provide an experience that without telephones and computers wouldn’t be lived and felt.
Audio: I use earphones almost every day to listen to music, watch videos, etc. When they amplify the sound being produced, the earphones are allowing my ears to detect noises that if I wouldn’t be able to hear regularly.
Photography: Cameras visually improve our sense of sight as effects can be used. By using cameras I can zoom in on points my naked eye could not see if it didn’t have this tool. Also, effects to put on images enhance the colour, therefore picking up on detail and making them much more clear. Therefore, photography improves my sight in certain aspects.
Artificial flavourings: When baking, artificial flavourings is normally added. This is not a type of electronic technology, but it is culinary. Food colouring improves brings out the taste in certain foods, improving my sense of taste. This is not technology that alters my taste buds, but it enhances taste that naturally wouldn’t be present.
By using these technological tools, both sense perception and knowledge gained from environment, is enhanced. Every time we receive a new stimulus, we are learning. Every moment of our lives, we rely on our senses in order to receive information, therefore gaining knowledge.