People without hearing can LISTEN to music with new technology that converts melodies into vibrations
- Scientists designed an algorithm that converts monophonic music into tangible stimuli that are transmitted as vibrations
- The vibrations are then sent to a device worn on the wrist so that the wearer can feel the music
- We are working on an advanced portable version that can be used during concerts
New technology enables people without hearing to listen to music through touch.
Researchers at the University of Malaga designed an algorithm that converts monophonic music into tactile stimuli that are transmitted through a device worn on the wrist.
The prototype is connected to a computer, but an advanced portable version that can be used at concerts is the next phase of this groundbreaking technology.
The innovation uses “tactile illusions,” an illusion that affects the sense of touch, which the team says is like “hacking” the nervous system to receive a different response to the real stimulus being sent.”
Paul Remache, the lead author of this article, said in a statement: “What we want to achieve in the long term is that people who don’t hear can ‘listen’ to music.”
The focus is on how music can affect one’s mood and abilities as a therapy for mental disorders and pain treatment.
The algorithm converts monophonic music into tactile stimuli that are transmitted through a device worn on the wrist
A study was conducted with more than 50 participants to understand how the algorithm would work.
Each participant wore the devices on their wrists and noise-canceling earphones to block out other sounds.
The results suggest that the arrangement of “tactile illusions” evokes more positive than negative emotions.
The vibrations were also perceived as more pleasurable and stimulating than the audio, eliciting a different emotional response than the original music.
“While musical features such as rhythm, tempo and melody were mostly recognized in the arrangement of tactile illusions, it elicited a different emotional response from that of the original audio,” scientists wrote in the study.
A study was conducted with more than 50 participants to understand how the algorithm would work. Each participant wore the devices on their wrists and noise-canceling earphones to block out other sounds
“It’s like mapping music,” explains Remache, who adds that it’s possible because this type of file can not only play and generate sound, but also provide “symbolic representations.”
While the technology isn’t entirely new, this is the first version to see an emotional response to the music.
While these researchers hope to help people without listening to music, another group allows them to join the conversation wearing smart glasses that display captions of communications happening around the wearer.
Called XRAI Glass, the glasses use augmented reality to convert audio into captions that are projected directly in front of the wearer’s eyes.
A separate technology uses augmented reality to convert audio into captions that are projected directly in front of the wearer’s eyes in smart glasses
Dan Scarfe, CEO of XRAI Glass, said in a statement: “We are so proud of the ability of this innovative technology to enrich the lives of people who are deaf and hard of hearing, enabling them to maximize their potential.
“Whether that means being able to carry on a conversation while continuing to make dinner or keeping a conversation going while walking with a friend.”
This software converts audio into a subtitled version of the conversation, which then appears on the screen of the glasses.
Thanks to voice recognition capabilities, the glasses can even identify who is speaking and will soon be able to translate languages, voice tones, accents and pitch, according to XRAI Glass.
In addition to allowing the non-hearing to ‘see’ conversations with other people, the glasses can also open the door to other technologies, such as smart assistants.