Sensory superpower

Some years ago I posted a recollection of scuba diving in the company of deaf people, and how they were able to seamlessly continue their conversation under water. It was a wonderful example of a characteristic that is generally thought of as a disability becoming flipped, situationally, into a kind of superpower.

I was reminded of this just recently when an old friend told me that he was starting to lose his hearing, and so he had had an in-ear hearing aid installed. The tech is pretty cool. For example, the battery is integrated into the unit, and charges via induction. He keeps the charger under his pillow and it recharges every night while he sleeps.

But the coolest part is that he has it set up to integrate with his SmartPhone. When he gets alerts or messages, he can privately hear them, without needing to look at his phone. To me this feels like an early prototype of some future, less obtrusive, form of augmented reality.

It’s fascinating to witness two such clear examples of a disability flipped into a superpower — one in an encounter with our natural heritage, and the other in an encounter with our cyber future. Perhaps, with some creative thinking, we will eventually discover other sensory superpowers can be at our fingertips (maybe literally).

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