Personal Sensory Device Interfaces

Fundamental scientific and engineering work needs to be done to permit development of an array of personal sensory device interfaces to enhance human abilities to perceive and communicate. Human senses are notoriously limited. Whereas we can hear ten octaves of musical tones, we can see only one octave of the colors of light, and our ears have a poor ability to form detailed "images" from sound the way our eyes can with light. Today's communication technology has revolutionized the ability of people to communicate across large distances, but little has been done to help with small area communication, for example, between individuals in a conference room. These are only two of many areas where NBIC sensor efforts can increase human performance.

Research can develop high bandwidth interfaces between devices and the human nervous system, sensory substitution techniques that transform one type of input (visual, aural, tactile) into another, effective means for storing memory external to the brain, knowledge-based information architectures that facilitate exploration and understanding, and new kinds of sensors that can provide people with valuable data about their social and physical environments. For example, increased awareness of the chemical composition of things in our immediate environment will improve human productivity, health, and security. Artificial agents based in microelectronics, nanotechnology and bioengineering may endow people with entirely new senses, or existing senses operating in new ways, in some cases employing neural interfaces to deliver complex information directly into the human mind.

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