Can blind people see with their ears? Could ultrasonic vibrations lead to a button-free future? Why do some people’s senses get mixed up?
This October, Horizon immerses itself in the science of the senses to find out how they can be hacked and change the way we perceive the world around us.
We talk to researchers who are training blind people to see with their ears by turning everyday images into sound, and discover how our sense of smell could give us new insight into anxiety and eating disorders.
We delve into the futuristic world of haptics, which is using ultrasound vibrations to create invisible objects such as knobs and buttons from thin air. And we find out how our brain sorts out all the inputs from different senses, and what happens when they get jumbled.
How we perceive smell is more complicated than which molecules are detected by our noses, it also depends on our physical and emotional state, according to Professor Emre Yaksi from the Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience and Centre for Neural Computation at NTNU, in Trondheim, Norway.
A new computer program that translates visual images into sounds and music is enabling blind people to see faces and other objects through their ears, and the results are inspiring brain experts to change their view of how the senses work.
To mark the European year of cultural heritage, Horizon explores how science is helping to uncover more about our past and to preserve our art, landscapes, buildings and ways of life for the future. We discover why prehistoric humans chose to paint rock art where they did, and how farming techniques from hundreds of years ago could help fight climate change today. Plus, we learn how cultural heritage feeds into European identities and what can be done to prevent the destruction of historical sites during wartime.
The way we work is undergoing a major shift thanks to technological development and demographic change and, this month, Horizon looks at how research is helping us stay ahead of the game. We find out how decisions made early in your career could determine when you retire, and how to get the most out of the relationship between humans and machines in factories. We also investigate some of the ethical issues that could arise in the jobs of the future and how best to take them into account.
A lot of lip service is being paid to making scientific papers free to access but when it comes to action there is a lot of hypocrisy, according to Robert-Jan Smits, the EU's outgoing director-general for research, science and innovation. He has recently been appointed the EU's special envoy on open access, tasked with helping make all publicly funded research in Europe freely available by 2020.
There is a need for renewed political attention, says EU’s new special envoy.
Digital cannot replace personal experiences.
Cultural heritage destruction can be a war crime as sites form part of people's emotional landscape, says Dr van Ess.