Human body augmentation refers to any kind of permanently-attached or wearable technology that expands the functionality of your body. Augmentation is common in science fiction, often in the form of cyborg-style implants. But it’s also more common in real life than you probably realize. Robotic prosthetics and RFID implants are both augmentations, and even contact lenses could technically be counted as such. If, however, you’re more interested in science fiction-style augmentation, you can build your own wearable device to give yourself cat whiskers.
This tutorial comes from user chrishillcs, who worked on the “Whisker Sensory Extension Wearable” with a college at the University of Colorado Boulder. This version of the cat whiskers is designed to be more affordable and maker-friendly than the original. The completed device is worn on your head, and has four long “whiskers” that protrude away from your face. Those whiskers are connected to flex sensors that can detect when they’re touching something. When they do, small vibration motors on your forehead will provide tactile feedback. How strongly those vibrate is proportional to how much the whiskers are being bent.
You won’t need any complex or expensive components to build these yourself. All it will take is an Arduino Uno, four 4″ unidirectional flex sensors, four vibration motors, a head band, and miscellaneous supplies to put those all together. Each of the flex sensors gets connected to the Arduino through a ProtoBoard so that they can be monitored. The Arduino also controls the vibration motors. The wiring is simple, and the only difficult part of the build is constructing the head band and mounting everything. After you do that, you can flash the provided code to start receiving feedback from your new wearable augmentation!