Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Sensory enhancement : a pilot perceptual study of subdermal magnetic implants
Author: Harrison, Ian
ISNI:       0000 0004 5363 0516
Awarding Body: University of Reading
Current Institution: University of Reading
Date of Award: 2015
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
Subdermal magnetic implants originated as an art form in the world of body modification. To date an in depth scientific analysis of the benefits of this implant has yet to be established. This research explores the concept of sensory extension of the tactile sense utilising this form of implantation. This relatively simple procedure enables the tactile sense to respond to static and alternating magnetic fields. This is not to say that the underlying biology of the system has changed; i.e. the concept does not increase our tactile frequency response range or sensitivity to pressure, but now does invoke a perceptual response to a stimulus that is not innately available to humans. Within this research two social surveys have been conducted in order to ascertain one, the social acceptance of the general notion of human enhancement, and two the perceptual experiences of individuals with the magnetic implants themselves. In terms of acceptance to the notion of sensory improvement (via implantation) ~39% of the general population questioned responded positively with a further ~25% of the respondents answering with the indecisive response. Thus with careful dissemination a large proportion of individuals may adopt this technology much like this if it were to become available for consumers. Interestingly of the responses collected from the magnetic implants survey ~60% of the respondents actually underwent the implant for magnetic vision purposes. The main contribution of this research however comes from a series of psychophysical testing. In which 7 subjects with subdermal magnetic implants, were cross compared with 7 subjects that had similar magnets superficially attached to their dermis. The experimentation examined multiple psychometric thresholds of the candidates including intensity, frequency and temporal. Whilst relatively simple, the experimental setup for the perceptual experimentation conducted was novel in that custom hardware and protocols were created in order to determine the subjective thresholds of the individuals. Abstract iv The overall purpose of this research is to utilise this concept in high stress scenarios, such as driving or piloting; whereby alerts and warnings could be relayed to an operator without intruding upon their other (typically overloaded) exterior senses (i.e. the auditory and visual senses). Hence each of the thresholding experiments were designed with the intention of utilising the results in the design of signals for information transfer. The findings from the study show that the implanted group of subjects significantly outperformed the superficial group in the absolute intensity threshold experiment, i.e. the implanted group required significantly less force than the superficial group in order to perceive the stimulus. The results for the frequency difference threshold showed no significant difference in the two groups tested. Interestingly however at low frequencies, i.e. 20 and 50 Hz, the ability of the subjects tested to discriminate frequencies significantly increased with more complex waveforms i.e. square and sawtooth, when compared against the typically used sinewave. Furthermore a novel protocol for establishing the temporal gap detection threshold during a temporal numerosity study has been established in this thesis. This experiment measured the subjects’ capability to correctly determine the number of concatenated signals presented to them whilst the time between the signals, referred to as pulses, tended to zero. A significant finding was that when altering the length of, the frequency of, and the number of cycles of the pulses, the time between pulses for correct recognition altered. This finding will ultimately aid in the design of the tactile alerts for this method of information transfer. Preliminary development work for the use of this method of input to the body, in an automotive scenario, is also presented within this thesis in the form of a driving simulation. The overall goal of which is to present warning alerts to a driver, such as rear-to-end collision, or excessive speeds on roads, in order to prevent incidents and penalties from occurring. Discussion on the broader utility of this implant has been presented, reflecting on its potential use as a basis for vibrotactile, and sensory substitution, devices. This discussion furthers with postulations on its use as a human machine interface, as well as how a similar implant could be used within the ear as a hearing aid device.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available