Ant: fiberglass, virtual-reality glasses, and microscopes; giraffe: PVC, mirrors, and voice changer
Ant: gloves: 3 3/4 x 6 5/16 x 8" (9.5 x 16 x 20 cm), helmet: 9 3/8 x 12 3/16 x 7 11/16" (24 x 31 x 19.5 cm); giraffe: 18 1/8 x 8 11/16 x 9 3/8" (46 x 22 x 24 cm)
Animal senses, like our own, have evolved in reaction to specific contexts and survival needs, and they often go above and beyond the limited sensory capacities of humans. Birds, for example, use magnetic fields to determine their migration routes, ants communicate via scent trails, and dogs can sense impending earthquakes. In an effort to make these abilities comprehensible to us, Chris Woebken and Kenichi Okada have designed a series of experiential sensory enhancements for children. The ant apparatus, a helmet with gloves attached, displays the world through an ant’s eyes: microscopes in the gloves magnify minuscule surface details to 50 times their regular size and transmit the images to the helmet. The giraffe device raises the wearer’s line of sight, simulating for a child the physical perspective of an adult, and also deepens the voice. Although these prototypes were specifically made as responses to the curiosity of children, in a broader sense they present us all with ways to stretch our own limited human interactions with the world.