What if you could focus on one person's voice in a crowded shopping mall? Or focus on just the drummer at a concert? Students from the Royal College of Art developed a pair of head-mounted devices can do just that.
The gear, called "Eidos," can improve your selective perception and even augment basic human sight and hearing. It works by isolating visual and sonic information from extraneous input, and then enhancing it from there. For example, you can use it to highlight patterns in movement by setting the headgear to show trails behind moving objects.
Oddly enough, the first of the two devices goes over the mouth. With a very sensitive directional microphone, it targets user-chosen sounds--parsing them from noisy or aurally crowded environments--and then transmits them by bone conductivity through a mouthpiece. Instead of going directly into the ears, the sound vibrations resonate your skull, making it possible to hear other people actually talk within your head.
The second device covers the eyes, blocking vision and employing a camera to "see" on your behalf. A computer analyzes camera input, detecting certain kinds of movement. It then displays it for you inside the visor, allowing you to see motion that would be undetectable by the naked eye.
Uses for the Eidos are as diverse as the device is unusual: ADHD sufferers can use it to improve focus, athletes can use it to better analyze performance, and concert-goers could filter out extraneous noise and focus on audio from the stage.
The Eidos isn't available yet for mass consumption, but two prototypes have been presented at the Work in Progress Exhibition at the Royal College of Art.