Video: BRAID system hacks sensations

Luis Rodil-Fernández is an artist who is interested in computational somatics, or the relationship our bodies develop with a computer.

“Where biofeedback involves taking signals coming from the body into the digital domain, in computational somatics we do not make this distinction,” he explained in a recent TechTheFuture article.

[“Rather], we look at computation in a more holistic light. Signals that originate in the digital domain can be provided as input to nerves as well.”

To further explore the realm of computational somatics, Rodil-Fernández has developed a device that affects the balance of the wearer. How? By sending a small and short pulse of electricity via the skin into the vestibular system – which is responsible for coordinating the sensation of balance.

“This pulse causes the wearer to experience the sensation of a moving floor as if standing on a boat, making it very difficult to remain in balance,” said Rodil-Fernández. 

”The device has the capability to make the sensation controlled, making the wearer lean left or right depending on the stimulus.”

Using simple off the shelf components and an Atmel-based Arduino board to run the stimulation software, Luis developed what he refers to as the “BRAID system” for a choreographed stage performance.

As you can see in the video above, the delicate sensation of balance quickly becomes interconnected for dancers Almudena Ballesteros Parejo and Demian Haller.

“BRAID is composed of two devices that can produce GVS (Galvanic Vestibular) stimulation on the wearer. The devices are networked wirelessly using an XBee module, [which] gather positional data from the wearer’s spine via an accelerometer positioned on top of their heads,” Rodil-Fernández added.

 “When one of the wearers leans out of balance, the device detects this and sends a proportional stimulus to the wearer of the paired device, so it is the other person [who] feels it.”

Interested in learning more about the BRAID system? You can check out the original TechTheFuture article here.

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