I’ll Bet You Can’t Design This: A Human Sensation Transferal Using Sensors

If you were at Sensors Expo 2015 in Long Beach CA last June, you will no doubt remember Dr. Mike North’s demonstrations during his keynote. One of those demos involved controlling a cockroach via a smartphone app. If you missed it, or if your memory needs a slight poke, you can watch a video demo by clicking HERE.

A wireless control module attaches to top of a large roach and interfaces with its antennae. The human user, via smartphone app can, to some impressive degree, control the insect’s motions. One can actually buy a kit that allows them to repeat the demo. Hopefully, someone who has the ability to create a 500-lb. roach does not get their hands on one.


However this device goes beyond novelty. In the video demo, it is seen in operation on humans as well. As stated in the video, this technology has greater applications, particularly in the medical field.

Another application comes to mind, one not yet seen or mentioned anywhere. That does not mean it does not exist, books and the Internet don’t reveal everything. However, if that be the case, I wonder if, using something like Dr. North’s invention, you can create a form of human-sensation transfer unit. Obviously that needs some defining.


Can a system using sensors be designed that transfers human physical impulses from one person to another? For example, I recently read that a certain country passed a law stating it would be illegal for music teachers to touch students during lessons. For example, a violin teacher could not physically manipulate the student’s body when showing him or her how to hold the instrument under the chin. A piano or guitar teacher cannot touch a student’s hands to demonstrate how to place the hands or fingers on the keys or strings. The reasons for the law are obvious, a bit extreme, but necessary to avoid a plethora of problems.

Not allowed.

To solve the situation, imagine a series of sensors attached to both teacher and pupil and some small modular system that can transfer impulses from the teacher to student that would allow the student to feel exactly how the hands should be positioned and exactly how much pressure to exert on the keys or strings.

Obviously, there will be both analog and digital signals involved. That’s good because it means we can take it a step further. What if the impulses can be recorded digitally, stored on a disc, thumb drive, or a file so that the student can use it at home with a separate system that hooks up to a PC or Mac during practice sessions. The system could also record a video of the lesson to go along with the impulse source.

Why not go a step further. If the local music teacher can record performance impulses that can be used both during the lesson and remote, it can also be done by noted music virtuosos. Imagine a cello student being able to feel the same physical impulses of a virtuoso such as Pablo Casals while practicing a difficult piece. Learning exactly how much pressure to exert on a string and feeling how much waver is necessary to create smooth vibrato like a master player would certainly make practice more effective and a hell of a lot more exciting and fun.

Why not go a step further into the medical world, perhaps a bit beyond prosthetics and other similar devices. For those situations where a patient either erroneously describes or cannot verbalize the sensations or pains he or she is feeling, how about a system that can transfer those sensations (not the actual illness) to the physician. That would clearly both speed up the diagnosis and make it more accurate, and possibly lead to the correct treatment, on the first try.

The doctor is in.

Obviously, in the medical case, some advancements would need to be made in the field of external sensors. This would definitely be a good area for MEMS technology.

In either case, be it musical or medical, this would be a hearty project, somewhat a bit beyond the roboroach. In your spare time, do you think you can design this? Let us know, maybe you’ll see a prototype at Sensors Expo 2016 ~MD