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New mini-ET in the making December 15, 2014

Posted by Tom Froese in Technical.

Adam Spiers is currently developing a mini version of the Enactive Torch. In addition to the smaller design, this ET features a new output modality in addition to vibration: skin stretching. A pilot study comparing these two modalities is currently being planned.

Mini Enactive Torch

In the above photo the new skin-stretch output can be seen below the user’s thumb.

The existing version of the Enactive Torch will continue to be available from Creative Robotics. Note that only the full-sized version has the complete data recording and transfer capabilities.

How to get an Enactive Torch August 14, 2014

Posted by Tom Froese in General, Technical.
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There are two ways of obtaining an Enactive Torch:

1) For people with experience in engineering and electronics, there is the option of building your own device. We manage the Enactive Torch as an open source project, so all the technical details are freely available.

2) For people who do not have the time or experience to build their own Enactive Torch, they can also buy one from Creative Robotics. Please contact them at the following e-mail address: sales@creative-robotics.com.

Thank you for your interest!

The Enactive Torch in the news August 12, 2014

Posted by Tom Froese in Uncategorized.
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The Enactive Torch in the news…

Dr. Tom Froese

Researchers at the University of Cincinnati have started testing the Enactive Torch for use by people who are visually impaired. Here are two reports:

Robinette, T. (2014, August 11). ‘Seeing’ through virtual touch is believing.University of Cincinnati News. Retrieved from http://www.uc.edu/news/

Rivas, A. (2014, August 11). Visually impaired will benefit from new infrared device: Enactive Torch helps the blind to ‘see’ without canes. Medical Daily. Retrieved from http://www.medicaldaily.com/

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IEEE Haptics Podcast on the Enactive Torch January 11, 2013

Posted by Tom Froese in General, Presentations, Publications.
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Our paper on the Enactive Torch, entitled The Enactive Torch: A New Tool for the Science of Perception, which was published in IEEE Transactions on Haptics, is discussed in that journal’s latest podcast. The coverage starts at 11:00.

New technology for consciousness science July 11, 2012

Posted by Tom Froese in Publications.
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In this forthcoming paper the motivations and methods for the Enactive Torch are described in more detail:

Using Human–Computer Interfaces to Investigate ‘Mind-As-It-Could-Be’ from the First-Person Perspective

Tom Froese • Keisuke Suzuki • Yuta Ogai •Takashi Ikegami

There is a growing community of researchers who are interested in establishing a science of the experiential or ‘lived’ aspects of the human mind. This shift from cognitive science to consciousness science presents a profound challenge to synthetic approaches. To be sure, symbolic artificial intelligence constituted the original foundation of cognitive science; subsequent progress in robotics has helped to pioneer a new understanding of the mind as essentially embodied, situated, and dynamical, while artificial life has informed the concept of biological self-organization. However, with regard to the development of a science of the experienced mind, the relevance of these synthetic approaches still remains uncertain. We propose to address the challenge of first-person experience by designing new human–computer interfaces, which aim to artificially mediate a participant’s sensorimotor loop such that novel kinds of experience can emerge for the user. The advantage of this synthetic approach is that computer interface technology enables us to systematically vary the ways in which participants experience the world and thereby allows us to systematically investigate ‘mind-as-it-could-be’ from the first-person perspective. We illustrate the basic principles of this method by drawing on examples from our research in sensory substitution, virtual reality, and interactive installation.

IEEE Transactions on Haptics July 11, 2012

Posted by Tom Froese in Publications.
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What is it like to use the Enactive Torch? The first systematic study of the experience of using this devise is going to come out soon in IEEE Transactions on Haptics. The title and abstract are as follows.

The Enactive Torch: A New Tool for the Science of Perception

Tom Froese, Marek McGann, William Bigge, Adam Spiers, and Anil K. Seth

The cognitive sciences are increasingly coming to terms with the embodied, embedded, extended, and experiential aspects of the mind. Exemplifying this shift, the enactive approach points to an essential role of goal-directed bodily activity in the generation of meaningful perceptual experience, i.e., sense-making. Here, building on recent insights into the transformative effects of practical tool-use, we make use of the enactive approach in order to provide a definition of an enactive interface in terms of augmented sense-making. We introduce such a custom-built interface, the Enactive Torch, and present a study of its experiential effects. The results demonstrate that the user experience is not adequately captured by any standardly assumed perceptual modality; rather, it is a new feeling that is mediated by the design of the device and shaped by the overall situation of the task. Taken together these findings show that there is much to be gained by synergies between engineering and the cognitive sciences in the creation of new experience-centered technology. We suggest that the guiding principle should be the design of interfaces that serve as a transparent medium for augmenting our natural skills of interaction with the world, instead of requiring conscious attention to the interface as an opaque object in the world.

Video of talk February 17, 2012

Posted by Tom Froese in Presentations.
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A few years ago Tom Froese was invited to give a talk at Test_Lab: Multimodal about the Enactive Torch. The footage of this presentation has now been made available in YouTube:

Test_Lab: Multimodal: Tom Froese

This was still the first version of the Enactive Torch!

Tech sheet for Enactive Torch February 7, 2012

Posted by Tom Froese in General.
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The website of Creative Robotics Ltd is currently undergoing some maintenance work. In the meantime here are the technical specs of the latest Enactive Torch v3.0.

As before, you can use this information to build your own Enactive Torch under the Creative Commons license, or you can contact Bill Bigge directly to order one ready made.

The Use of a Distal-to-Tactile Sensory Substitution Interface Does Not Lead to Extension of Body Image February 7, 2012

Posted by Tom Froese in Presentations.
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Marek McGann presented our team’s ongoing research at the The International Conference SKILLS 2011, which was held in Montpellier, France, December 15-16, 2011.

The Use of a Distal-to-Tactile Sensory Substitution Interface Does Not Lead to Extension of Body Image

Marek McGann, Tom Froese, William Bigge, Adam Spiers, and Anil K. Seth

A range of studies in the past decade and a half indicate significant impacts of tool use on body image. In cases of intentional action, contractions of near space or experienced extensions of limbs have been shown when using tools such as rakes. It remains unclear whether the changes in body image are effected by the tool enabling perception at a distance or action/manipulation of the environment at a distance. We studied this issue using a new research tool, the Enactive Torch, a sensory substitution device specifically designed for research into perception and bodily action. The Enactive Torch allows perception at a distance without the capacity for distal action. We report a first experiment indicating that its use on a navigation task has no effect on body image.

The full paper can be downloaded as a PDF here.

How do I obtain an Enactive Torch? October 26, 2011

Posted by Tom Froese in General.
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When demonstrating the Enactive Torch at various public events we frequently receive inquiries about the possibility of obtaining ETs for research purposes.

The About page has now been updated to give information about the 3 ways in which you can get your hands on an Enactive Torch (for non-commercial purposes only):

  1. You can build an Enactive Torch given the information provided by Creative Robotics Ltd
  2. You can contact us to receive an Enactive Torch on a short loan
  3. You can contact us to buy an Enactive Torch at cost price

Our hope is that this will facilitate the spread of enactive interfaces and thereby raise awareness about the need for designing technology with consciousness in mind.