Regular ol’ reading is so passé. E-readers? Not good enough. Try harder, science.
Here’s a good example: suit up and wire yourself into a book with this sensory fiction device.
Brought to you by the relentlessly experimental folks at the MIT Media Lab, the gadget is a combination sensor-suit and connected book. As the suit wearer flips the pages of the book, the device makes the reader _physically _experience what’s happening to the protagonist. (Instead of, you know, experiencing it through his or her brain-thoughts.) The book’s cover changes in response to a passage’s atmosphere, and the suit can increase temperature in certain parts of the body, or vibrate around the heart, to simulate the feeling in the pages. The book, appropriately, is James Tiptree’s _The Girl Who Was Plugged In, _about a person being steered in their emotions and actions.
It’s… wow. It’s certainly something. Part–maybe most–of the joy that comes from fiction is figuring out what’s happening in the subtext, the motivations and underlying feelings that propel the plot. As cool as this is, maybe having Siri belt out a siren and scream ACTIVATE TEAR DUCTS, HUMAN isn’t what most people are looking for in a novel.