This new invention from the MIT Media Lab will no doubt be controversial. Readers strap themselves into a robotic suit equipped with sensors that literally make the reader feel the emotions conveyed in the text as the reader flips pages. The video below came with a disclaimer from its makers. “While the project explores new ways of reading with digital augmentations, this is not a product idea but rather an exploration in the context of Science Fiction stories. It is an artifact meant to provoke discussions,” the Vimeo post states.

Educators, parents: Does this type of augmented reading add anything to the experience of reading or help budding readers understand language and text in different ways?

SENSORY FICTION from Felix on Vimeo.

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  • Anne

    If anything, I feel this reduces the opportunity for children and adults to understand text in different ways. There may be useful applications for this for students with special needs, but most people who read enjoy the imaginative experiences that come with it. We’ve already removed the need to imagine and create as individuals with all of the new interpretations of books on tablets and through the translation of 25 page books into 90 minute movies – why should we remove the opportunity for a reader to experience a text as an individual in his/her imagination? Why must we do everything for them?

  • Mary Elizabeth Lawson

    I decided to show this to my 6th grade students to see what their reaction would be. Most students said that they would like to try it once, but the overall feeling was that it wasn’t something that they would buy or want to spend money on.
    My students and I agreed that it would take something away from the personal experience of reading. That if we are in some way forced or influenced to ‘feel’ a certain way that it may take away from a person’s own interpretations of what they are reading. There is also a worry that it may take away from using our imagination to paint pictures and feel the emotions and moods of the story on our own.

  • Mean Evil Step Teacher

    I love this idea! Not for all books certainly, but as another type of reading material to add to the long list of books, magazines, eBooks, fan fiction websites, and the like. Like anything else, how you read will depend on what you are reading and why. On a side note…The porn industry will certainly make use of it.

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  • Rob Voigt

    Rosenblatt said that reading is a transaction between the text and the reader. And cognitive psychology is still fighting a battle to have education respect the reader’s contribution to the reading act. As a teacher, I expect reading growth for my students to show ever more participation (contribution) on the part of the student to the text being read. Insofar as this e-text provides SO MUCH more stimulation, I think it would actually be ‘overbearing’ causing the student’s contribution to the reading act (making meaning) to be minimized and thereby diminish reading growth.

    I’m sure it would have its place as a novelty item… much like the rides at Ripley and Disney that lift you and mist you as you fly over the large screen ocean landscape.

  • Stelios Katsoulis

    Can’t we rely on self powered feelings anymore ? Has our mind lost the innate ability to stimulate us ? I’m an electronics engineer, and teach ICT and and industrial technology to adolescents. Maybe we must re-discover imagination, instead of trying to jail it.

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Katrina Schwartz

Katrina Schwartz is a journalist based in San Francisco. She's worked at KPCC public radio in LA and has reported on air and online for KQED since 2010. She's a staff writer for KQED's education blog MindShift.

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