6th Sense Device (To Sense Magnetic Fields)

I saw a program not too long ago (I believe it was from the UK) about an experiment that was done in which they outfitted a participant with a device that contained a magnetometer, as well as some number of vibrating motors mounted on a belt along his waist.

It was designed so that overtime, his brain interpreted this incoming data as a "new sense" which allowed him to literally FEEL the magnetic directionality of the Earth.

I'd really like to try this for myself, but am no good doing electronics projects from scratch. (I need guidance)  So is there anyone here who is up to the challenge of attempting this, or can anyone at least show me how it might be possible to create this myself.  I'd love to augment my senses full time and become a super human. haha

Thanks in advance for any and all help.


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kelseymh7 years ago
This sounds like something you could attempt yourself, provided you had some of the more complex parts already done, and just modified the circuit slightly.

I did a Google search for LED compass circuit, to try to find something that would consist of a magnetometer and a ring of LEDs to show the directions.

Once you've got that circuit (either buy a kit or do it from scratch), you would then simply replace the LEDs with a set of little pager motors (salvage them or buy a bunch from someone like Digikey or DealExtreme). You could also just put the motors in series with the LEDs (so you get both the visual display for troubleshooting, and the vibration for kinesthetic training).

The reason I suggest pager motors is that they are designed to run off a single AA battery, so you know up front that you don't need anything special like a higher-voltage power supply, or relays to isolate them from the rest of the circuit, etc. The same voltage that drives the LEDs can run the motors, too.
foxymcfox (author)  kelseymh7 years ago
You're my hero! That's a great idea, and thanks to the google search you linked to, I found this:


It's a haptic compass kit. Which is exactly what I'm trying to make. I figure if I just change the scale of it a bit to fit on a belt instead of an anklet, I may soon be the only man who not only doesn't ask for directions...he doesn't HAVE to ask for directions.

Thanks for your help!
Good luck! Please, please, take lots of pictures as you build the project, and write up an Instructable about it. Even if it doesn't work as you expect, the process is important and useful.

And you may learn more about electronics trying to explain what you're doing!
foxymcfox (author)  kelseymh7 years ago
That's the plan! I like learning by taking on projects that interest me, and if I can help others along the way learn as well, even better.

Once I get one more project off my plate, I'm going to move forward with this. So it may be a while before anything comes of this, but when it does, you can expect a full write up with lots of pretty pictures.
Humans HAVE a weak compass sense anyway - although not well understood or confirmed.

R. Robin Baker: Human navigation and magnetoreception. Manchester University Press, 1989
foxymcfox (author)  steveastrouk7 years ago
Very cool! Now I want to look into that. Thanks for feeding my inner (And outer) nerd! That's actually a pretty cool concept, even if it isn't fully proven or understood yet. That's where some of the most interesting science lies.
jeff-o7 years ago
I've heard similar things about having a strong magnet implanted into one's skin. It can be used to sense ferrous metals and moving electricity. You can't turn it off, though...
foxymcfox (author)  jeff-o7 years ago
Man, that sounds annoying. Just imagine how many hard drives you'd accidentally erase just by handling them. haha I've never heard of that though, I may have to look into it further.

That's why I like this piece of tech that I saw, it was removable...and won't lead to forks sticking to me. :P
forks, needles, thumbtacks... ;)

Yeah, a removable device definitely sounds better to me. Can't beat the simplicity of the magnet, though!