Virtual Body-Swapping Tech

In the 1995 movie Strange Days, people are able to perfectly see what it is like to perceive from another person's body. In a recent study published by Valeria I. Petkova and H. Henrik Ehrsson of the Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden, we start to see how it could work.

By using relatively simple cameras and goggles, it became clear that it is surprisingly easy to manipulate the body into a "body-swapped" experience.


(Experimental set-up to induce illusory ownership of an artificial body)

Here we report a perceptual illusion of body-swapping that addresses directly this issue. Manipulation of the visual perspective, in combination with the receipt of correlated multisensory information from the body was sufficient to trigger the illusion that another person's body or an artificial body was one's own. This effect was so strong that people could experience being in another person's body when facing their own body and shaking hands with it.

In the film, a police detective turned street hustler (Ralph Fiennes) deals in 'SQUID' recordings: experiences recorded directly from the cerebral cortex which when played back through a MiniDisc-like device allow a user to experience all recorded sensory inputs as if actually doing it themselves.


(Strange Days trailer video)

SF fans will also recall SimStim, that "gratuitous multiplication of flesh input", from William Gibson's seminal novel Neuromancer.

From If I Were You: Perceptual Illusion of Body Swapping; thanks and apologies to Moira for how long it took me to put this story up.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 12/19/2008)

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