Hacky but working sensory substitution on my phone.

been hacking away at sensory substitution cause that shit is cool. (Sensory substitution is a change of the characteristics of one sensory modality into stimuli of another sensory modality.) Cool shit and my first experiment is working pretty well and gives some really rich information about the local magnetic fields just using my phones magnetometer, Whether i can understand it all yet is another thing xp

The basic setup runs an app on my phone that takes the axis of my phones magnetometer and converts them into a unique tone within a certain range. This information is passed into a pair of bone induction headphones that communicate that information to you through sound (or vibration on the lower frequencies but that can be kinda hard to feel accurately)

Plus sides: only requires off the shelf bits, no soldering or wiring needed to get it working all that you need to do is install the app. Bone induction headphones provide a really high sensory resolution and could be a way to encode sensors which are more information dense like visual information.

Downsides: Hard to use your phone for phone things while using it for sensory substitution. The only thing worse than my soldering skills is my coding skills and my app is a real horror show that sucks down battery life crazy fast.


  • I love this as a way to share the magnetic experience with folks who are not interested in getting an implant. The 3D aspect is an added bonus. I tried making a similar app with compass/vibration combo but it sounds like you had a lot more success! Nicely done. I keep a magnet concealed in a pen with me most of the time and I love showing people strong alternating magnetic fields but your demonstration would work for static fields too. Can yours differentiate between a permanent magnet and an alternating field?
    As you play with this, I recommend keeping the phone in the same position all the time so your body associates the new sense as a recurring pattern on those nerves rather than a tool that rings when it is near a magnet.
    Will you be publishing your app somewhere? Any writeup about your work and results?

  • sadly it cant distinguish it :/ I think its probably gonna come down to how often the scripts are updating, which is to say not really fast enough to detect the frequency of ac. I have a couple ideas of how it could be done but they seem way out of my skill range.

    ive been keeping in an athletic holster on my left(im right handed and i wanted to see if that might change if i wore it on my non dominant arm xp)

    i will def try and publish the app after ive cleaned it up. I will probably post more about it as i keep wearing it and see which if any of my hunches pan out.

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