Volume 2 Number 9
February 28, 2005


CFO Gallagher inspects the
IHMC dive gear.



Tallahassee is a meeting place for visitors from all over the state when state legislators are in town. Last Wednesday was Northwest Florida Legislative Day with many counties, cities, chambers of commerce, educational institutions, Native Americans and a long list of private industry groups presenting their visions to the legislature and the community.  

An urban warrior robot sat ready in the rotunda, exo-skeletal underwater dive gear stood like medieval armor and an OZ flight simulator/cockpit display invited a test.  

These creations are a part of the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, a university-affiliated research organization whose innovative scientists were on hand to discuss their work. 

CFO Tom Gallagher was introduced to cutting-edge human/machine collaboration. Anil K. Raj, M.D., a reasearch scientist with IHMC, took him into a sensory awareness of direction and mass using nerves in the tongue.  With a flat computer cable held in his mouth, impulses were sent to reflect the view of a camera. Light coming in on different sensory channels translated into sensations on the tongue. From this information, the brain could figure out how to react, like a GPS working as part of the sensory system.       

Dr. Raj explains the multi-sensory display equipment.

While navigating a vehicle in a combat situation, a map would not be needed. A visually-impaired person could distinguish shapes, faces, depth and even catch a ball rolled across a table.  

IHMC described Raj’s research in these terms, in the IHMC newsletter, Volume 2, Issue 1. “In dynamic environments such as aviation, most information is presented to a single sensory channel, typically visual. This reliance frequently leads to mishaps due to loss of situation awareness.  Raj and coworkers developed multi-sensory displays using tactile transducers to improve situation awareness. Pilots using these systems can perform complex maneuvers while blindfolded. In addition, performance under high stress and workload conditions improved.”

The Old Hernando County Courthouse, surrounded by grand old oak trees, was built in 1912 in the county seat of Brooksville.