Tech Weekly: Sensory Overload

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While the Oculus Rift hasn’t hit the mass market just yet, there are already plenty of ways to use technology to mess with your senses. This week, a roundup of tech projects that offer treats for the eyes, ears, and nose.


These may look kinda like your standard earbuds, but they’ve got microphones built in. And those microphones are in the perfect position to capture sound just the way the ears hear it. On playback through headphones, listeners get that you-are-there effect. (Nerds call this “binaural recording.”) There’s also HearThrough mode, which mixes the sounds around you into your music, at a level that you choose.

StoryHome: The Connected Storytelling Device 

Storytelling used to be a local affair, for folks around a campfire maybe, or curled up on a couch. But sometimes the people who want to tell stories can’t be near those who want to hear them. With StoryHome, grandparents can beam their stories across the internet to a device in the bedroom of their grandkids. And those stories are stored so they can be played back later.

Lumigraphe: a Camera Obscura for your smartphone

Back in 2013, two academics used Kickstarter to revive the camera lucida (“light chamber” in Latin), a drawing tool that artists used to capture reality in the days before photography. Now Valmont Achalme wants to bring another piece of ancient optical technology into the modern era. His Lumigraphe is a camera obscura (“dark chamber”) with a place to attach your phone. The images it creates have a spectral beauty to them.

The Lomography New Petzval 58 Bokeh Control Art Lens 

Speaking of visual effects from days gone by… the people at Lomography are all about just that. With their fourth project, they are adding a twist to their revived Petzval lens, allowing you to adjust the level of swirly “bokeh” effects around the edges of the frame. No app has filters that can recreate this straight-from-the-1840s look.

SensorWake - Wake Up Happy with the Smell-Based Alarm Clock 

The bleep-bleep-bleep of your standard alarm clock provides a really horrible user experience. Guillaume Rolland is changing this with SensorWake, which pumps out a range of scents to wake you up nose-first: peaches, croissants, even money. Don’t worry, if your nose doesn’t do the job, the SensorWake starts beeping after three minutes.