London-based fashion company CuteCircuit has developed a shirt designed to allow deaf users to experience music by feeling electronically-triggered sensors on their skin. According to Designboom, the SoundShirt “features 30 micro-actuators embedded in the fabric of the garment (which) translate the sound in real-time into a tactile language that is unique to each piece of music being performed.”
Much like how Apple Watches tap a user’s wrist when a notification is received, the SoundShirt uses haptic technology to trigger the micro-actuators and allow tangible sensations to spread across different regions of the shirt based on the various sounds or instruments in the song. CuteCircuit explained to Designboom that, in one example, “the violins can be felt on the arms and the drums on the back, creating a fully immersive feeling for a deaf audience member.”
Diagrams explaining how different instruments are sent to different regions of the shirt. (Credit: CuteCircuit)
This venture is not CuteCircuit’s first successful attempt at haptic technology. In 2002, the company developed the world’s first haptic telecommunication wearable with their Hug Shirt — an award-winning device which allows users to send hugs over long distances.
While a consumer version of the SoundShirt is only available for pre-order, versions of the SoundShirt are currently available online for game developers, museums, and orchestras. Dependent on the model, prices range from £3,000-£11,000 ($3,930.30-$14,411.10).
More information on the SoundShirt can be found here.