Experience designers Yuri Suzuki, Olivier Bau and Ivan Poupyrev at Disney Research have made an interactive installation that turns sound into touch and back again in a synthetic synesthesia of sorts. (Nice one, Darren.)
Here comes the science bit. First a microphone records the sound. Then the signals are transformed into an inaudible signal. Then the person holding the microphone feels the signal. And finally, they pass it on to someone else by touching their body. If that person is touched near their ear, the signal is audible – like someone whispering.
Literally altering the sensation of touch, the name of the experiment – Ishin Denshin – means ‘communication through unspoken mutual understanding’ in Japanese. There are all sorts of possibilities for its uses, but perhaps its most interesting potential is for enhancing communication between people with hearing impairments.
Watch and wonder here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=UUM42XWqRoruK6bNkgbgoJMw&v=Iw1FhmY1sIU