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Virtual Dictionary

Sensory Substitution Device

A Sensory Substitution Device or SSD is at heart, simply a device to substitute one bodily sense for another. There are two main, very different applications for SSDs:

1. In terms of healthcare or overcoming physical disabilities, a SSD is employed to augment or replace a failing sense with another.

For example, if an individual's vision has given out, a soundscape may be generated to replace it. In this context, cameras worn by the individual transfer their data into a computer system that then produces a range of binaural sounds to indicate different obstructions or voids at different distances around the individual.

There is always a learning curve with this type of SSD, but the end result is an improvement in a failing or failed sense, by the redirection of another. Typically such SSDs are non-invasive, as if you are going to implant an invasive device, tying it up to the nervous system correctly, you might as well implant a device to replace the failed sense directly rather than re-purpose an existing one. It would make sense to implant new eyes in the above scenario, rather than implant a soundscape generator within the ear.

2. The second form of sensory substitution is of course a virtual reality interface. Here the meaning of a SSD changes slightly. The sense organs are not being used to substitute for the input of one another, but rather the data the sense organs receive is being substituted. In this case replaced with an entirely artificial input.

Artificial sight, artificial sounds, artificial smells, artificial touch sensations, even tastes. All substitute what the sense would naturally be sensing for an artificial variety.

This type of sensory substitution device is more likely to be available as an invasively implanted option as the technology develops. It is after all in theory easier to bypass the sense organs entirely and feed different information directly into the brain, then it is to fool every corpuscle of every different type in the skin across the body all at once, for example.

See Also: Soundscape, Virtual Reality, Binaural, Binaural Sound, Sensory Immersion, Sensory Reference Frame, Sensory Reference

Below, we offer a selection of links from our resource databases which may match this term.

Related Dictionary Entries for Sensory Substitution Device:


Kansei Engineering

Sensory Substitution Device




Resources in our database matching the Term Sensory Substitution Device:

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Linked resource
The Silent Majority
A potent look at closed captioning systems in VR and in gameworlds, including the staggering capabilities possible, the incredible customer response when it does occur, and asks why more developers aren't considering sensory substitution in designing their worlds?

Resource Type not Available

Our perception of the world is driven by sensory input which is sent to our brains through sequences of spikes carried by sensory neurons, an incoming/outgoing "language of the brain". This book explores the way in which the nervous system represents or encodes these sensory signals.

Locally Hosted resource
Sony patents theoretical brain-interface
Industry News

Industry news, originally posted 10-04-2005. A patent granted to Sony Entertainment for a device for transmitting sensory data directly into the human brain, may sound exciting, but will likely lead to stifled growth for neuroprosthetics.

Locally Hosted resource
Prevailing View of Brain's Sensory Processing System is Under Fire
Industry News

Industry news, originally posted on the first of July 2013, concerning the discovery that sensory data processed by the brain does not always follow the pathways it was shown to follow in the past. Specifically, signals often go through these areas, deeper into the brain, and the whole sensory processing model has been turned on its head.

Locally Hosted resource
Multiple Sensory Modalities Proven to Reinforce Each Other
Usually when we think of sensory input channels - sight, sound, touch, taste, smell, balance - we think of the traditional hierarchical order, under the brain. It seems that that hierarchy is not as cut and dried as we once thought, with interesting implications for virtual worlds.

Locally Hosted resource
Book Quotes: Apparent Sensory Perception
Apparent Sensory Perception, later known as SimStim, is the logic endpoint of passive entertainment, in all forms.

Locally Hosted resource
Sensory Malfunction: Taste
A look at what taste is, as a sense, and the possible malfunctions - what can go wrong with the taste reaching the brain, attempting to explain in signal propogation terms. Intended to assist the creation of taste-based sensory systems for VR.

The Media Vehicle, is a serious take on VR interfacing, however it is not a serious commercial device. The unit is, for lack of a better phrase, an ?art tool?. It exists to showcase what is currently possible in 2009, not as a device which expects a practical market.


Industry News containing the Term Sensory Substitution Device:

Results by page [1]   

What if you could “hear” colors? Or shapes? These features are normally perceived visually, but using sensory substitution devices (SSDs) they can now be conveyed to the brain noninvasively through other senses.

At the Cente...

Using auditory or tactile stimulation, Sensory Substitution Devices (SSDs) provide representations of visual information and can help the blind “see” colors and shapes. SSDs scan images and transform the information into audio or touch sign...

A patent granted to Sony Entertainment for a device for transmitting sensory data directly into the human brain, may sound exciting, but will likely lead to stifled growth for neuroprosthetics.

The technique suggested in the ...

19-21 July 2009
Town and Country Resort & Convention Center, San Diego, USA

The HCI International 2009 jointly with the affiliated Conference, held under one management and one Registration, invite you to San Diego, Ca...

A computer specialist is that gives virtual beings sensory powers.

Tony Conde, a researcher at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL), has been honoured with an award from Vaud?s capital for his development of softw...