Tag Archives: Felix Heibeck

Sensory Fiction

Sensory fiction is about new ways of experiencing and creating stories.

Traditionally, fiction creates and induces emotions and empathy through words and images.  By using a combination of networked sensors and actuators, the Sensory Fiction author is provided with new means of conveying plot, mood, and emotion while still allowing space for the reader’s imagination. These tools can be wielded to create an immersive storytelling experience tailored to the reader.

To explore this idea, we created a connected book and wearable. The ‘augmented’ book portrays the scenery and sets the mood, and the wearable allows the reader to experience the protagonist’s physiological emotions.

The book cover animates to reflect the book’s changing atmosphere, while certain passages trigger vibration patterns.


Changes in the protagonist’s emotional or physical state triggers discrete feedback in the wearable, whether by changing the heartbeat rate, creating constriction through air pressure bags, or causing localized temperature fluctuations.



Our prototype story, ‘The Girl Who Was Plugged In’ by James Tiptree showcases an incredible range of settings and emotions. The main protagonist experiences both deep love and ultimate despair, the freedom of Barcelona sunshine and the captivity of a dark damp cellar.

The book and wearable support the following outputs:

  • Light (the book cover has 150 programmable LEDs to create ambient light based on changing setting and mood)
  • Sound
  • Personal heating device to change skin temperature (through a Peltier junction secured at the collarbone)
  • Vibration to influence heart rate
  • Compression system (to convey tightness or loosening through pressurized airbags)

View more photos of Sensory Fiction on Flickr

– Felix Heibeck, Alexis Hope, Julie Legault

Rodent Sense

Inspired by the protagonist in Kill Decision’s reliance on a trained pair of ravens (as opposed to drones), and by the SimStim in Neuromancer that allows Case to tap into the sensory experience of another, the Rodent Sense project links its wearer to the world of animals.

We drew on Umwelt theory to imagine how a human might make sense of the world if given the opportunity to to switch between various animal sensory inputs and augment (or diminish) their senses in particular ways. For the demo, we focused on allowing the viewer to see through the eyes of a hamster.

As hamsters can only see 2 inches in front of their eyes, the view offered to the wearer is a quite distorted one. To create this experience, we attached stereoscopic cameras to a carriage and hamster-ball device that the hamster pulled, and processed the resulting video feed so that it could be seen by the viewer in 3d while wearing an Oculus Rift. The carriage and wheels were laser cut from 5mm mirrored acrylic and 25mm clear acrylic.

We also recorded fictional promotion material for our product:

Thank you for purchasing the Rodent Sense™ Virtual Reality expansion pack. Now you can have the sensory experience you’ve always wanted.

For example, with the Rodent Sense™ pack, you can focus sharply on objects that are two inches from your nose, perceive time in slow motion, and feel infra red lights. With the Reptile Sense™ pack you can hear through vibrations and discern the body heat of others. And, if you’re feeling adventurous, why not see through the hundreds eyes of the sea scallop with Aquatic Sense™.

Setting up is easy. First, catch an animal or grow one in your household hatchery. Next, simply attach the Sensory Transmitter™ to your desired animal. The Transmitter will anchor to the neural system of its host and manifest pathways necessary for wireless communication. Initiation will take a few days. Once your augmented animal system is ready, you can begin to immerse yourself in this animal’s senses using your VR unit.

Collect multiple expansion packs to switch between a fleet of your favorite animals. If you want to experience our new, multiplayer product, try Swarm Sense™. You and your friends can experience what it is like to be part of a hive of bees, a school of fish, or a flock of seagulls. Experience communication on an animal level.

Warning: Death of host sometimes occurs during Sensory Transmitter™ installation. If you a experience a sensory malfunction lasting more than 4 hours, call a doctor. Sense Co. will not be held responsible.

Sense Co.

Feel Everything