Your New Senses/Feeling the Future; Your Bionic Future; Scientific American Presents; by Strauss; 4 Page(s)
EVEN THE PHONE COMPANY has tried to exploit our need to touch. The old AT&T advertisements exhorted us to "Reach out. Reach out and touch someone." In the foreseeable future, this will become more than merely a metaphor. In the next several decades, some scientists predict they will be able to reconstitute the sense of touch in people who have lost limbs or sustained nerve damage and to extend the sensation into virtual worlds for the rest of us.
Imagine: A father who lost his arms uses a prosthetic hand to stroke his son's head. He relishes the familiar feel of the fine hair as he twirls a strand. After hearing about the day's water-gun battle and what the turtle ate for dinner, he kisses his child goodnight. Then he switches off his computer, and his son-who is a continent away-disappears.