Mind the chair - You don´t see with your eyes, you see with your brain

Biomedical engineer Paul Bach y Rita devoted his work and research to the field of sensory substitution when his father suffered a stroke. He set up a rehabilitation center and nursed his father to full recovery. During his researches he found out that brain functions are flexible and not hard-wired.
This opened the door to help blind people to navigate hallways and finally he developed devices that deliver sensory information to the brain through a helmet by electrodes and solenoids.

In 1969 he put a set of electromagnetic solenoids in the back of a dentist chair, connected them to a camera and made people who sat down on "see" the pictures from the camera.

Bach y RIta died in 2006 and now designers Beta Tank and Peter Marigold have revived this idea.
They have constructed their prototype mind chair "the Polyprop" which looks like simple chair with an interesiting inner life.

A set of 400 solenoids is built into the back. When connected to a camera the visuals will be transformed and the person that sits on the chair will be able to "see" the image.

Sounds magical!

While the beneficial exploits for blind people are great, I can´t shake the feeling that the entertainmet and marketing industry and...the military are slobbering over all the possibilities of selling us stuff via our backs.

One one hand its a nice touch that todays designers have managed to fit the technique into a small, ordinary chair. The prototype from the 60s looked freakishly like a torture device. On the other hand: Aren´t all dentist chairs torture devices and is the fact that we can have this technology in any ordinary bus chair much more disquieting?

In the end, I would rather prefer to have mental images of lush, green hills played into my nervous system while sweating at the dentists...as long as they don´t feed you a trailer for "Saw 5".

The mind chair will be on display at the MoMa´s Design and the elastic mind exhibition from February 24 - May 12

Is this too good to be true or just a hype like all the 20 year old promises of virtual reality?

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