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Sound Shirts Allow Deaf People to “Feel” an Orchestra

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“Imagine a world without music” – this is the first line for the ad for the Sound Shirt. For most of us who can hear, music is an integral part of life that adds flavor, emotion, and color to our everyday life. Deaf people, however, can only see instruments being played and feel the slight vibrations they emit. Obviously, this is nowhere near the full extent of a musical experience.

That’s why wearable tech company CuteCircuit, in collaboration with the Junge Symphoniker Hamburg Orchestra in Germany, decided to create a garment that can allow the deaf to feel music – the Sound Shirt. After six months of research and development, the shirt was put to the test with a few deaf participants and the whole orchestra.

The shirt resembles a sweatshirt lined with a flexible, wireless system with 16 motors that correspond to different instruments.

The shirt resembles a sweatshirt lined with a flexible, wireless system with 16 motors that correspond to different instruments.

Source: Sound Shirt

The shirt resembles a sweatshirt lined with a flexible, wireless system.

It contains 16 motors, each of which are assigned to a different instrument, depending on the size and pitch. For instance, the upright bass corresponds to the motor on the stomach, while the violins correspond to the arm and shoulder motors.

The wearer can feel the music through vibrations throughout the shirt.

The wearer can feel the music through vibrations throughout the shirt.

Source: Sound Shirt

Microphones were arranged all over the stage to pick up each individual instrument. The recordings are then sent to the Sound Shirt’s software to be converted into data which is then transmitted to the shirt. As the orchestra plays, the motors are simultaneously activated to vibrate to the intensity of the music, allowing the wearer to literally feel the music.

The participants felt a wave of different emotions when they were finally able to “feel” the music of the orchestra.

Watch the video here:

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If you want to purchase a Sound Shirt, check out their site here.

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