Wearable Tech

High Tech Vest Simulates Book Characters’ Feelings, Makes You Look Like a Cool Guy

Pair this with your Google Glass and you'll be the talk of the town.
Would you like your book with a side of heartbeat and shiver simulator? (Vimeo)

Would you like your book with a side of heartbeat and shiver simulator? (Vimeo)

Soon, reading a book might not even be a veritable means of escaping technology.

Researchers at MIT’s Media Lab are working on a project called “Sensory Fiction:” a “wearable book” that lets you experience emotions along with the story’s characters.

Using James Tiptree Junior’s novella The Girl Who Was Plugged In, the researchers created a prototype of the invention by covering the book in sensors and hooking it up to a vest, which the reader can then wear.

The book knows which page you’re on, and commands the vest to behave accordingly. If the book’s protagonist is scared, the vest will constrict. If she’s excited, it’ll vibrate. If she’s embarrassed, the vest will get hot.

The LED lights on the outside of the book also change color in accordance with the protagonist’s varying moods, the Daily Mail reports.

Maybe it’s just us—maybe you weirdos really wished you could feel the searing pain when Harry’s arm got pierced by the Basilisk fang—but this sounds like a solid example of “just because you can produce the technology, it doesn’t mean you should.” Books are fun because you can get lost in an adventure from the relaxed comfort of your living room couch. I don’t particularly want to sweat in my seat while a character’s having a workout, or find myself suddenly unable to breathe because my stupid protagonist is a little bit scared.

We’re also not ready to concede that our society’s attention spans have plummeted so low that we need this kind technology to make books interesting again.

But putting those arguments aside, we were wondering if anyone could show us how to hook this thing up to Fifty Shades of Grey? We’re asking for a friend.

Follow Jordyn Taylor on Twitter or via RSS. jtaylor@observer.com