Radical Sensing at the 2015 Microsoft Design Expo

September 25, 2020

When Selwa Sweiden and Jay Hong presented Radical Sensing at this year’s Microsoft Design Expo, the jury was speechless. Their audacious future proposal imagines a time when people would have their noses surgically removed so that they could have access to different smelling neuroprosthetics. Selwa Sweiden and Jay Hong’s proposal takes body augmentation to a completely new place and is voted best overall!

The presentation at Microsoft was based upon a project Selwa created for the Lab Project class called Seams and Superpowers, led by Professor Phil van Allen. For the class, Selwa proposed a set of wearables that would plug into the brain and provide olfactory superpowers like stereo smelling or wine super sensing.

On her website, Selwa asks: “Would people do this? The transition of cosmetic surgery and tattooing from unusual to everyday has certainly taught us to question our assumptions about “normal.”

But beyond the cultural and ethical issues around identity, body modification and prosthetics, the superpowers that wearables give us raise many new and specific design challenges around the personal and social character of superpowers. When, how, or should I indicate that I’m using a superpower? What cultural adaptions are needed for these new powers? What economic class issues are raised by cost and other access constraints? How do I touch things on my body? What gestures are appropriate to myself and to others?”

Wind Tunnel Graduate Center for Critical Practice is an initiative of the graduate programs in Art and Media Design Practices at Art Center College of Design. The Wind Tunnel, situated between the two programs in a former supersonic jet testing facility on Art Center's south campus, is a forum for speakers, conferences, exhibitions, residencies, screenings, and publications.

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