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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.

General updates October 14, 2011

Posted by Tom Froese in General, Presentations, Publications.
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New references have been added to the Publications, Presentations, and Literature pages.

More updates coming soon!

Evolution of the Torch October 13, 2011

Posted by Ad Spiers in Uncategorized.
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The image gallery has been updated with images of all 5 Enactive Torch Prototypes, from 2007 to 2011.

New: Literature page added May 30, 2011

Posted by Tom Froese in General.
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A new literature page has been added to this blog. This page will list publications which make reference to our work with the Enactive Torch.

Presentation at ASSC 15 April 5, 2011

Posted by Tom Froese in Presentations.
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An abstract based on our recent pilot study with the Enactive Torch has been accepted as a presentation at this year’s annual conference of the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness (ASSC), to be held in Kyoto, Japan, on June 9-12.

Distal perception via use of distal-to-tactile sensory substitution interface does not lead to extension of body image

Tom Froese, Marek McGann, and Anil K. Seth

It is well known that bodily transformations are entailed by practical tool-use, such as changes in body schema and body image after pointing with sticks or manipulating with rakes (see Maravita and Iriki 2004). What remains unclear is which aspects of tool-use cause the transformations. Since no effects are found in control tasks with laser pointers, the changes appear to be related to reachability (Longo and Lourenco 2006).

Talk: Enacting your body? January 18, 2011

Posted by Tom Froese in Presentations.
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An abstract based on the first set of psychological experiments with the Enactive Torch, which were recently conducted at MIC, University of Limerick, has been accepted as a concurrent talk at this year’s Toward a Science of Consciousness conference in Stockholm, Sweden (May 1-8, 2011).

Enacting the body? Use of distal-to-tactile sensory substitution interface does not lead to extension of body image

Tom Froese, Marek McGann, and Anil K. Seth

There is a growing amount of evidence in the cognitive sciences documenting a variety of profound personal and sub-personal transformations entailed by practical tool-use (see Maravita and Iriki 2004). In the neurosciences there is well-known evidence that tools can be incorporated into the body schema during usage. For example, distant object manipulation with rakes leads to an extension of the body schema for the arm (Iriki, et al. 1996). In psychology related effects have been observed in terms of the body image and object perception. For example, when sighted subjects had to complete tasks involving the use of elongated tools, and were subsequently blind-folded and then tapped on their arm, they consistently misjudged the position of the tactile sensations as if their arm had become extended during tool-use (Cardenali, et al. 2009).

New Enactive Torches unveiled October 19, 2010

Posted by Tom Froese in General.
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Thanks to an immense coordination effort involving Anil Seth, Bill Bigge, Adam Spiers, Marek McGann and myself we have finally managed to complete the next generation of Enactive Torches and started some psychological experiments.

The new ETs have been designed by Bill Bigge, who switched the controller for an Arduino for ease of programming and created a printed-circuit board in order to make the assembly of additional units more affordable and faster. The rest of the new ET mostly follows the design of the ones previously designed by Adam Spiers and Tom Froese (e.g. distance sensor, vibro-tactile output, bluetooth connectivity, accelerometers, hand-held design).

Two additional difference is that the ultrasonic sensors have been replaced by infrared sensors, as we found these to give more reliable distance measurements. Also, in order to prevent the vibro-tactile response from interfering with the accelerometers, Bill has placed the motors on a velcro strap that can be placed on the arm away from the device.

We are in the middle of writing up the first batch of experiments, so I won’t say more about that just yet. In the meantime here are some pictures of the new Enactive Torches.

Toward a PCB February 11, 2010

Posted by Tom Froese in General.
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There’s been a long silence on this blog, but in the background the activity has been ongoing. There was some extensive discussion about whether the Enactive Torch could play a supporting role in a funded project on immersive performance art, but for various reasons this did not happen in the end.

At the same time, Bill Bigge at the University of Sussex has taken on the task of developing a printed circuit board (PCB) for the latest version of the Enactive Torch. The idea is that once this is done it will be much cheaper and easier to build additional devices.

There’s also talk about starting a series of psychological experiments on the long-term effects of Enactive Torch usage. In particular it would be interesting to get a more accurate phenomenological description of the developing perceptual experience.

More updates to follow as they become available!

ET3 unveiled April 6, 2009

Posted by Ad Spiers in General, Presentations.
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The latest Enactive Torch prototype (ET3) was unveiled at the e-sense workshop held at the end of March. 



This version of the Enactive torch features live data streaming over Bluetooth which allows an experimenter to remotely observe and record a participant’s use of the torch. ET3 is also much more robust than the last prototype in a number of ways and many successful efforts have been made to reduce noise throughout the device. As in ET2 a number of distance / stimulation profiles are implemented in the device which can be easily selected during the experiment. The device also has lower power consumption so uses fewer batteries than the last Enactive Torch prototype (over the course of the entire workshop the torch showed no signs of running low on power).

ET3 meets all the technical goals that were originally proposed at the start of work on the Enactive Torch. Once the design of this torch has been finalised into a production-ready version, we hope to be able to start making enactive torches on demand for laboratories that wish to use the device in their research.