See with your tongue. Navigate with your skin. Fly by the seat of your pants (literally). How researchers can tap the plasticity of the brain to hack our 5 senses – and build a few new ones.
For six weird weeks in the fall of 2004, Udo W?chter had an unerring sense of direction. Every morning after he got out of the shower, W?chter, a sysadmin at the University of Osnabr?ck in Germany, put on a wide beige belt lined with 13 vibrating pads – the same weight-and-gear modules that make a cell phone judder. On the outside of the belt were a power supply and a sensor that detected Earth’s magnetic field. Whichever buzzer was pointing north would go off. Constantly.