DOW Senses: North Sense

The North Sense is a device which is embedded onto the body of the user and imbues them with an artificial sixth sense, which essentially turns the user into a human compass. It connects the user to the Earth’s magnetic field, giving them an extra acute sense of space and direction.

The attachment of this device to the human skin is similar to receiving a bodily piercing. Two titanium metal bars are inserted under the skin and act as the anchoring system for the device. It is discreet at around a square inch in size, enclosed in body-compatible silicone and anchored onto his chest via titanium piercings. By mounting it to a piercing, the user can feel the vibrations of the device under their skin rather than just on the surface.

The device connects to mobile apps through Bluetooth, and how it functions is that it vibrates/buzzes when it is faced in the direction of the strongest electromagnetic force around it (usually facing North). Rather than merely being a compass, it causes the user to be hyperaware of the magnetic forces surrounding them, and to experience the forces physically rather than just knowing that they exist.

Since the forces are being sensed through vibrations, they are technically felt through a sense of touch, however, people who have had the North Sense implanted have stated that it is much more than a directional indicator. For them, it has become a way for them to amass mental images and memories, and have a different marker/instigator for memories, much like how we would trigger memories when we experience a similar related stimulus through one of our five senses. So basically, it is making use of one of our existing senses (sense of touch) to give us an entirely new sense and experience something that humans do not originally get to experience.

This reminds me of Neil Harbisson’s EyeBorg, which perceives colours in the world around him and translates them into different sounds in order for him to be able to perceive colour (Harbisson is severely colour blind). If we as a society come to accept and explore different ways in which we can interpret our senses, I think it would also come to benefit those who are disabled by giving them other sensorial alternatives to use and explore.

DOW 2: IoT

Most of us are familiar with IP cameras, even if we have not specifically heard of this term before. While most of us may refer to them as CCTVs, they are actually not the same thing. IP cameras and CCTVs roughly serve the same purpose, however the difference is that IP cameras can be accessed over a network connection which means that the live footage can be viewed remotely from any location with a connection, as long as one has the login credentials to the camera.

In recent years, many companies have switched to IP cameras rather than CCTVs as their choice of surveillance camera, for several reasons. Firstly, as mentioned, the IP camera can be accessed remotely from a different location. This makes it more convenient, especially for home use, for example if a parent wishes to view live footage to check on their child while they are at work.

On top of live video footage, the IP camera also have live audio functions and some of them even have 2 way audio which means on top of hearing live audio from the source of the camera, the viewer can also relay audio to the source, so the IP camera in essence also can double up as a communication device.

The IP camera also does not require a power supply to operate. Similarly to WiFi routers, it is able to source power through ethernet cable in order to function. This is known as Power over Ethernet (PoE) and it means that the IP camera will require only 1 cable to provide both data connection as well as electric power.

Despite all these, there are also major down sides to using IP cameras, which some users are not even aware of. The biggest concern with IP camera is safety and security concerns. While IP cameras are considered security devices and are typically used by people who want to increase security in their home or store, in actual fact IP cameras can be dangerous if not used properly because they are easily accessible by strangers as long as they can obtain the IP address and guess the login credentials of the camera. What’s concerning is that many people do not even realise that this is possible, hence they do not set a password when setting up their IP cameras and continue using the default login credentials set by the camera manufacturer. This makes it even easier for the camera to be hacked into by absolutely anybody across the globe and poses serious security threats.

There are websites such as Insecam which contain live footage sourced from unsecured IP cameras all around the world. In many cases, the owners of these cameras are not even aware that their IP camera is being accessed by thousands of strangers and some of them are even showing footage of the inside of people’s houses. This is why when we purchase an IP device, we must always be aware of the potential risks and downfalls and take measures to keep our device secure, such as by changing the default login settings. With any IoT device there is always a risk and sadly many people are not aware of it.

Despite this potential security threat, IP cameras are definitely useful to have as long as one is using it in a safe manner. One thing that they could be very useful for is in instances such as for teaching purposes or for customer service. Since the IP camera also doubles up as a two-way audio device, the person using it can show what they are doing to an instructor/customer service provider while the person at the other end can take a look at what they are doing and provide instructions. Also for emergency situations, for example if someone is defusing a bomb they can use a high resolution IP camera to show what they are doing and a bomb defusing team on the other end can see and relay instructions to the defuser through the microphone.

Semester Project Pitch

After my DOW Health research on the EEG, I decided that I was interested to discover more about how EEG works. I had discovered some other installation/artworks apart from Mind Pilot which make use of EEG. One of them is Eunoia II by Lisa Park, in which the artist makes use of EEG to control pools of water:

My Idea:

I decided to do something which is more design based which can solve some real world problems. Something which I researched on that EEG can be very useful for is in helping people with obtaining a state of mental relaxation, as it is able to detect whether a person is in a relaxed state of mind or not.

My idea is to create an ambient light which is used for meditation purposes in order to set the mood for someone to relax. According to my research, the colour of ambient light affects the emotional state of a person and hence can be a useful tool in meditation practices. Different colour lights can be adjusted according to the state of mind of the user, whether they are in a meditative state or not. I am also looking into whether the changing of the colour of lights can be triggered manually by blinking fast a certain number of times.

Medium: Arduino and EEG

I have rented an EEG from the film store and started playing with it. LP is right about it in the aspect that it does have certain limitation, for example since it is paired with bluetooth and my phone the connection at times does not work too well. How is works is that is allegedly measures 3 things, namely Attention, Meditation and Blinking. From my own experience I find that the blinking sensor works well and accurately when the device is connected, so perhaps that is the most reliable form of input. For attention and meditation it is measured on a scale of 0-100 and it seems to spike and ebb pretty randomly so I will have to explore further on whether it is really accurately sense attention and meditative state.

To connect the EEG to Arduino is possible, and I have 2 potential methods. The first which I intended to use is to connect the wires from Arduino directly to the EEG but this is not ideal since it’s a borrowed EEG.


Another method which I will try is to use a Bluetooth Module to connect it to Arduino. Since the EEG that I am currently using is Bluetooth connected, and I have been pairing it with my smartphone to use it so far, if I can connect it to Arduino interface through Bluetooth that would save me a lot of time. The Bluetooth Module for Arduino is not pricey and there are tutorials available online so I will do some more research to determine which is the best way to do this!

DOW health: Electroencephalography (EEG) headsets

Electroencephalography (EEG) headsets might look like mind-control devices but that’s not exactly what they are. It’s a device which attaches electrodes to a person’s head to measure the electrical signals produced by brain signals below the scalp. So basically it allows us to turn brain signals into a digital input. It allows doctors to detect abnormalities in brain wave activity, to spot things like seizures and other neurological disorders. It can also be used for other medical purposes such as helping patients relax or meditate.

In recent years, tinkerers and artists have started to appropriate EEG headsets to use as a way to control technology and devices. As seen above, EEG can be hooked up to Arduino in order to input the values obtained from the EEG into a computer and use in other devices or installations. So while it was initially invented to be a medical device, its uses have now expanded beyond its initial intention and it can now be used for a wide range of devices and purposes.

Personally, I think that this is very exciting as it means that we now have a whole new way to control devices, rather than just the usual through movement or touch or the 5 senses. It is the closest thing that we currently have to “mind-controlled” devices. Mobility wise it will also be useful for people with handicaps or paralysis. If their household devices can be controlled by brain waves, the range of activity and motion for these disable people can be greatly increased. This is a huge technological advancement and I am excited to see more devices which make use of EEG being invented and perhaps even get to try my hand at making use of EEG technology some day.

Of course, there are limitations to EEG as well. Because of the nature of the EEG device which is more or less mind-controlled, many people are misled into thinking it is a mind reading device and many EEG incorrectly market themselves as mind-reading machines when it is really just sensing electrical impulses. Hardware wise there is also room for improvement as current EEGs are not super effective hence are affected by factors such as the user’s hair or oil on the scalp. It can also be confused by external electrical impulses from nearby objects. There is also the possibility of confidentiality and privacy breach with these devices as scientists have discovered that it is possible to obtain someone’s private information such as credit card number and date of birth using EEG.

Something which I am looking forward to which involves EEG is the above installation, called Mind Pilot which is going to be exhibited at this year’s London Design Festival in a few days. The movement of the balloon shown in the above picture is mind-controlled by EEG, hence it is interactive for audience who can take part in moving the object using nothing but their brain. When I found out about this installation I was very shocked as I didn’t even know it was possible to do such a thing and it is what inspired me to do more research about EEG technology and how it can be incorporated into interactive device or installation.

For more light-hearted uses, I think it could be interesting to use the EEG device for interactive games or generative artworks. Even simple games like ping-pong could be very fun and interesting for the audience if it were to be played via mind-control. It could also be an interactive artwork where the user could do some kind of drawing using nothing but their mind.

I think the EEG is a very exciting device to use and I will look into how I could possibly obtain one to use in my future projects. I think that many medical devices have a great potential if it were to be used for different uses such as in artwork and engineering and I’m excited to see more of such things come up in the future!

Week 3 Sketch


By: Bridgel, Viena, Clarita, Ling Ern