Sensory Technology

Despite having only taken one introductory course on the subject, psychology has always facinated me.  Once I began to see applications of psychology, to the extent that I understood it, in my dayjob (which is heavily technologically oriented) I figured I liked how the two got along – starting from the little “psychological” support I need to provide to each enraged costumer after they’ve experienced a system failure, to the more complex processes of developing efficient workflows and trying to generate support from peers for a project.

Crowdsourcing is currently of great interest to me because of it’s implications on human psychology and some of the applications I can envision to psychological research. But it is far from the only connection I see between technology and psychology. Recently, another field that seems to be developing fast has been catching my attention – sensors, of all shapes and sizes, connected to all kinds of devices

While I woudn’t have recognized myself the connection between sensors and psychology just a year ago, it is definitly a topic researched under it’s veil, and can shed light on possible applications and developments in the field. Psychological research in the field of senses involves, amoung other things, measuring their capabilities and limits in various terms, from the ranges of senses we can recognize, the speed the signal is acknowledged in our brains, the amount of simultanious stimuly, etc’. This is very similar to how crowdsourcing applications involve finding processes that humans can do easily as opposed to computers.

If I had to name this field of work as a whole, I would call it “the search for new technological applications by studying our own capabilities and limits”. I’ve discussed many crowdsourcing projects that fit this bill, but here are some applications of sensors I found simply fascinating:

  • Medical sensors that can gather physical data allowing for live patient examinations without physically visiting a doctor. The ideas in this field are so advanced, that rather than be addressed as a batch of single sensors, they’re named a “body area network”. In this case, we monitor things are body couldn’t and connect it to our current technology. 
  • Prosthetic arms with sensors attached to nerves around the area that was severed, and thus allow their wearers to “feel” with them once again. The TED talk describes in great detail how patients’ nevous systems and their responses were studied in detail in order to allow for this research to advance.
  • Ninja Cloud – a small block connected to sensors that can react to them on your various social networks, allowing us to connect sensory data directly to the web, with limitless posibilities.
  • Robots with an attached Kinect-like camera and motion sensors that can continiously map their environment to allow for autonomous navigation, in a way that might serve as an aid to blind people. Navigation was the subject study here, with the breakthrough coming from the understanding of old technological limits and perhaps some insights from our own capabilities in the field.
  • High-speed photography made posible by two sensory achievements – capturing an image from a burst of light, and timing that burst of light, in many cases, to correspond with a sensory trigger.

All these applications are ingenious – they try and push the limit to what both machines and humans can do.

Do you also seen these advances? Any of these projects spike some interest? Let me know! 🙂

via tumblr at February 27, 2012 at 12:06AM. Originally posted on


Tags: , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: