Mixed feelings [Wired Magazine]
“We humans get just the five [senses]. But why? Can our senses be modified? Expanded? Given the right prosthetics, could we feel electromagnetic fields or hear ultrasound? The answers to these questions, according to researchers at a handful of labs around the world, appear to be yes.
It turns out that the tricky bit isn’t the sensing. The world is full of gadgets that detect things humans cannot. The hard part is processing the input. Neuroscientists don’t know enough about how the brain interprets data. The science of plugging things directly into the brain â€” artificial retinas or cochlear implants â€” remains primitive.
So here’s the solution: Figure out how to change the sensory data you want â€” the electromagnetic fields, the ultrasound, the infrared â€” into something that the human brain is already wired to accept, like touch or sight. The brain, it turns out, is dramatically more flexible than anyone previously thought, as if we had unused sensory ports just waiting for the right plug-ins. Now it’s time to build them.”