Five Senses

Ready for the future of Communication Technology?

Posted by Patrick Sheldon Wee on December 3, 2016

Imagine a world where everything feels real. This isn’t a world where you can just see someone through Facetime, or Skype. This is a world where you can literally communicate with the person through Five Senses--seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and feeling all the stimuli that come across you.

While we currently have partially mastered senses of seeing and hearing, with high definition cameras and high quality audio, we still haven’t figured out the sense of smelling, tasting and feeling yet. One thing we also have not figured out is how we can make 2D images look real. Sure, we have Virtual Reality technology, but we do not yet have the ability to easily record movements and then play them over VR realtime. With this in mind, the ability to replicate smelling, tasting and feeling is still at its infancy, and while this has been used in big theatres in places like Disneyland, this is not a widespread phenomena. The possibilities are endless, though, with this technology, that is why I believe that there is much hope in developing a technology that incorporates all five senses.

I argue that the next great leap in communication technology will be caused by a push to experience the world in five senses, not just a mere two of partial seeing and hearing. I argue furthermore, that widespread adoption of these technologies will occur within the next 10 years, as users would really like to experience the world through all the different human faculties. I argue that this technology will be very prevalent, and will be much a part of many people’s homes as computers are. This will revolutionize the communication, movies as well as travel industries, where people are able to experience different senses anywhere, anytime, in a very visceral fashion. It will fundamentally change the way we communicate.

In the analysis, first, I will explain how the technology will work. Second, I will give arguments for why this technology makes sense. After that, I will deliver some arguments as to why this idea might not be possible. I hope to rebut these arguments immediately afterwards. Finally, I hope to discuss the impact this technology has on a local, national and global scale.

How does this technology work? What this technology needs is a computer, a pair of goggles, and a type of material called multiflex. The computer is able to provide sight and sound feeds to the goggles, that provide both a realistic Virtual Reality view of the world, while at the same time, provide surround sound, such that you image that you are actually in the space you are in. This provides optimal levels of seeing and hearing. In terms of taste and smell, an odorizer will be present to spray different scents. This will be part of the goggles when you purchase these goggles. You can image scents being sold much like inks, where fundamental scents are used, and then mixed to make more complex scents, much like primary colors are used to build secondary colors and so forth. In terms of touch, the material I called multiflex, which is a material that is able to morph given commands given by a computer, is able to change into any shape commanded by the computer, which is able to replicate the sense of touch. With all these technologies, all five senses can now be used to experience the world--a huge leap in terms of making the world a place that makes much more sense.

With this description of the technology, there are a couple of reasons why this technology seems to make sense off the bat.

In Kevin Kelly’s The Inevitable, he talks about 12 technological forces that will shape our future, and a lot of the ones he actually mentioned is directly tied to the Five Senses system. For example, becoming, or moving away from fixed products to always upgrading fits perfectly with this model, given that we are updating the best available AR and sound system, as well as odorizer and multiflex system. We also see cognifying in Five Senses where we see us using AI to help process the tons of information that we will need to collect, analyze and replicate. We can also see Flowing in this system that aims to create real-time interactions for anyone using the system, especially those “Five Sensing” with our system.

Another support for this system is Ethan Zuckerman’s Digital Cosmopolitans or Rewire where he mentions how the world is not really getting more cosmopolitan, and how we remain locked into our circles. Facebook only shows us bland photos of what was happening in a news article, and this could easily lead to fake news. Imagine though where all five senses are now involved. It will be much harder to generate fake news that is able to replicate all the five different senses. Hence, it will allow people to really rewire and learn about experiences that are beyond the usual we experience. Overall, it will really create a new medium to communicate effectively, honestly and rationally through technology.

While this technology has a lot of potential, there are obviously areas where this technology might raise concerns.

One of the criticisms that might be raised by contemporaries is the impossibility of these ideas. I disagree vehemently. Clay Shirky, in his book, Cognitive Surplus, argues for this notion that with computers, we will have way more extra time to discover and apply new techniques and develop new technologies. In a sense, I believe that this is an exponential curve. That with better technologies, we are able to have more cognitive surplus, that then allow us to create more complicated systems that make our lives easier, that then repeat the process of cognitive surplus.

Another criticism that might be brought up would be Clay Shirky’s argument of the power law distribution, in his book Here Comes Everybody, where he mentions that only a few people ever contribute or participate in collaborative communication technologies. I think it will be different for Five Senses, though, because beyond a wiki page where people have to painstakingly edit, this is a seamless communication technology that really, only a few people need to curate, set-up, and keep running. Hence, this will not cause the same problems that Shirky has raised in his book, Here Comes Everybody.

With these concerns assuaged, the question then points to what the impact of this communication technology is on a local, national and global level. My belief is that this communication technology will really revolutionize the way we communicate. Not in a cyber-utopic world, as the example, Ethan Zuckerman brings up in his book, but in a way that allows us to rewire ourselves, change long held beliefs with information that is harder to fake and replicate. I see that easily, in a matter of 10 years, we can see this spread throughout the world, especially as foundational technology needed to run this has already been very much developed.

Hence, in this paper, I have shown you how Five Senses is the communication technology of tomorrow, how very feasibly, Five Senses will be able to really bring communication to a new level that allows us to rewire, to see the world in more complete sense, and to make build more engaged, welcoming and inclusive communities. Five Senses is ready for the future. Are you?


Gleick, James. The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood. New York: Pantheon, 2011. Print.
Kelly, Kevin. The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future. New York: Viking, 2016. Print.
Shirky, Clay. Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing without Organizations. New York: Penguin, 2008. Print.
Shirky, Clay. Cognitive Surplus: How Technology Makes Consumers into Collaborators. New York: Penguin, 2011. Print.
Zuckerman, Ethan. Digital Cosmopolitans: Why We Think the Internet Connects Us, Why It Doesn't, and How to Rewire It. New York: W.W. Norton, 2013. Print.