News Column


July 13, 2014

Kit Buchan

Lorenz Potthast was a first-year arts student when he designed the Decelerator helmet - a hefty piece of headwear that allows the wearer to experience a slowed-down world. "I didn't want to design another app to make grocery shopping easier," he says. "I wanted something experimental that could give a real experience."

The shiny metal dome records the view from a front camera and processes it to a screen in front of the eyes. The slow-motion is controlled by a handheld remote. "The first three minutes are confusing, but then you get a feel for it and become the director of your own perception," he says. "It's alienating, because you're experiencing time at a different speed, but it's also fascinating. People often don't want to take it off again."

Despite the attraction, Potthast, 23, has no ambition to market the helmet, and yet finds himself in demand from conferences, exhibitions and entrepreneurs worldwide. The most recent was in March, from a physical rehabilitation clinic in Italy, Villa Beretta. The director, Dr Franco Molteni, had heard of the helmet and recognised its potential.

"I hoped there could be a real use for it," says Potthast, "so the call from Villa Beretta was the nicest thing." After studies with patients, Potthast and doctors found an intriguing possible use. One patient, who had suffered a stroke and could no longer fully open his hands, was motivated to overcome this after wearing the helmet and seeing his fingers unfold in slow motion. "It's like tricking the brain," Potthast says, "but they're considering developing it into a real research topic." For Potthast and his slow-motion helmet, it seems success has been rapid indeed.

Kit Buchan


A camera on the front sees the world, and projects a slower version of reality on to a screen in front of the wearer. The Decelerator helmet could be used to help stroke victims.

Photograph by Lorenz Potthast

For more stories covering arts and entertainment, please see HispanicBusiness' Arts & Entertainment Channel

Source: Observer (UK)

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