sense and sensibility

you lose a chunk of yourself

I am currently working on the topic:
Being human and experiencing your surroundings like a human is gravely important, when you lose your sense of smell, you lose a chunk of yourself.

Our scenario takes place in the year 2050, we humans were warned about the extiniction of our species and the complete degradation of our planet if we did not change our actions. There were attempts made to reduce carbon emission and shift to sustainable practices and energy production, but they were not done quickly enough to stop the influx of natural disasters, disease, and resource depletion.

skip the pictures and jump directly to the scenario

Most humans have died. Starvation, floods, fires, disease. The Earth as we knew it is no longer habitable. Therefore, the small population of us humans had to relocate to an unfamiliar, and extreme environment. We had options: outer space, underground, or underwater. But the transition had to be swift, we needed a safe place away from the chaos on the mainland.

The habitat was built by year 2051, with the greatest surviving minds tackling the largest issues first: how to grow food, produce oxygen, have access to clean water, and shelter. We accomplished these sections, but the habitat had unforeseen consequences that hadn’t been accounted for as a priority during its construction. Those living in the habitat were all experiencing impaired smell . This could have been due to the atmospheric pressure change from the land, or the lack of odor diversity in the habitat.

It seemed like a price we pay for security at the time, but by year 2055, tension was rising. All the inhabitants had virtually no sense of smell, which in turn leads to no sense of taste. The psychological effects were devastating. Depression was rising, habitants felt stripped of our memories, and we were frustrated with our inability to produce new memories. Nowhere and nobody felt familiar anymore. We felt as though tour humanity was in question, just by losing this one human element. The habitants became deeply unmotivated, it was clear that this emotional issue was the new priority for the habitat beyond surviving.

By year 2060, some scientists and designers in the habitat had devised a solution. Humans couldn’t smell, but their other senses had sharpened, such as the ability to distinguish via touch or sound. It was suggested that they reconfigure the idea of smelling into a new way of sensing entirely. They would translate one sense into another, from a unique “smell” to a unique sound. By hearing smells, habitants could develop deep, emotional, sensory connections with their environment and their peers again. That restores elements of humanity that they lost during the transition to the habitat. The product also served to assist with protein and food content detection, as the food in the habitat was lacking in physical distinction.

skip the scenario and jump to the prototypes

The first product was launched to the public and was met with eager curiosity. The sensory experience reinvigorates the habitants, and allows them to continue building memories and getting informations about things they are touching in the habitat.

The product, became increasingly popular. In its second shelf generation. Everyone was willing to modify their bodies to regain this human experience. By the product’s third shelf generation, an important development was made: the technology hab become more biological, more human.

By year 2085, the Sensory Translator had reached a state of hypernormalisation. Nobody thought twice about having their body modified. It was commonplace, it had transformed the habitat, and we were excited and grateful for the product.

In all the products success, all should reflect on what actually happened here. Humans destroyed their planet with a lack of sensibility and sensitivity. Humans relocated to the habitat and it stripped the people of an essential component of their humanity. And to maintain emotional sensory interactions humans adapted.

makey makey: product generation 1

The product was launched to the public and was met with eager curiosity. It required two modifications to the body. First, nanosensors were installed in the index fingertip. They read odor data, breaking down the components in the object into percentages and ingredients, which is wirelessly transmitted to the skull. Next, on the skull, a small implant is installed between the ear and temple. This device reads the components of the odor data, and produces a sound. The sound vibrates on the user’s skull, allowing nobody to hear it but them

fakeskin: product generation 2

In addition to the sensory detection, the Sensory Translator emits a specific sound to alert users of poisonous substances and contents in which they are allergic to. This sensory experience reinvigorates the habitants, and allows them to continue building emotional, and sensitive memories in the habitat.

fakeskin: product generation 3

By the product’s third shelf generation, an important development was made: the nanosensors that were installed in the fingertip had become more biological, more human. Users were asked to donate a sample of skin cells, which would be grown in the lab around the nanosensors. Once the nanosensor skin was matured, it would be installed on the fingertip. The bionic skin would grow with the user.

team partner
Drew Tozer and Fiona Philipp

supervised by
Maik Groß and Luca Stetter