SC4 The Seventh Sense: Sensory Augmentation with Compass Belt


Beyond the normal use of your senses, what else is possible? There have been different approaches to substitute or augment your senses. Here we will learn about sensory substitution and sensory augmentation and experience more about space perception with the example of a compass belt and echolocation.

How is your space perception and can it be changed? People’s experiences vary greatly on how easily they can orient themselves in unknown environments. Some people are really good in orientation and claim to always know where north is. What happens if also you always knew where north is? We tried it with the feelSpace belt, which always points towards north via vibration. We will try out the feelSpace belt in practice and perform different little experiments to aim for an altered perception of space.

Throughout the course and the whole IK it will be possible to lend out compass belts.

Another interesting way space can be perceived is through echolocation as known from bats. Also humans are capable of using echoes to learn a lot about their environment, which can be really helpful for the orientation of blind people. But how do blind people learn to use echolocation? And as sighted people, can we also learn to use echolocation? We will present you the basics of how it is instructed. You will learn, that you can hear already more than you think.

  1. Session: Introduction
    You will learn what sensory substitution and augmentation is. We will present examples and talk especially about the compass belt that can help to get a new sense of space. We will have a panel discussion with two former subjects that tell about their experiences.
  2. Session: From research to startup: feelSpace
    You will get to know the story of feelSpace, the startup that develops tactile belts to make navigation easy for everyone. We will try out the compass belt and do some small experiments to experience the new “north-sense”.
  3. Session: Echolocation
    Some blind people use echolocation to “see” their environment. How do they do it and what is possible with this method? In this session we teach you the basics and we will do some practical exercises to show you how you can “sense” the space around you.
  4. Session: Practical experience with the feelSpace naviBelt
    We present practical research we did with the naviBelt. We will also present the naviGame that is played with the compass belts and will try it out. We finish with a feedback round to discuss the experiences of the course participants with the belt.


The course aims at providing some practical experiences with augmenting your senses. We will focus on perceiving space with the help of the feelSpace compass belt and echolocation via self-produced sounds. We will also elucidate the background of general learning of senses and the role of your body movements.



Course location

Forum 1

Course requirements


Instructor information.

Julia Wache


Julia Wache studied Cognitive Science in Vienna and Potsdam. She finished her PhD in Trento working on the Emotion Recognition via physiological signals and mental effort in the context of using a tactile belt for orientation. In parallel she participated in the EIT Digital doctoral program to learn entrepreneurial skills. In 2016 she joined the feelSpace GmbH as Head of Sales.


Susan Wache


Susan Wache studied Cognitive Science at the University of Osnabrück. She worked in the Research Group feelSpace that investigates human senses and works especially with Compass Belts. In 2015 two colleagues from the same group and herself as CMO founded the startup feelSpace that develops and sells naviBelts, tactile navigation devices especially for the visually impaired.