Emoti-Chair Lets You Hear Through Your Skin

Carmen Branje, at the Inclusive Media and Design Centre at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada, is working on letting you hear through your skin.


(A closer look at the voice coils on the Emoti-Chair)

Back at the lab, Branje plays me another tune. This one is slow and starts very low along my back. It clearly feels sad. The tunes were composed on Branje’s keyboard, which doesn’t look much like a normal keyboard. It is large and shaped like a semicircle so that composers can always feel the pulse against their back. The keys themselves are divided up into five sections, each of which map to different sets of voice coils in the Emoti-Chair, and each section has eight keys ranging from 40 to 421 hertz. So if Branje taps the 40-hertz key at the left-most section of the keyboard, a person sitting in the chair would feel a low-pitched buzz along their lower back. If Branje hits the same 40-hertz key on the far right of the keyboard, that same buzz would play along the shoulder blades.

Once he had created a prototype for the keyboard, Branje set out to see how he could convey the emotion typically found in music through touch. Some aspects of music, Branje says, transfer perfectly from ear to skin, such as rhythm and tempo, though he suspected other elements would prove more challenging. For instance, in Western music, major keys connote happiness, while minor keys connote sadness. But what would the equivalent of songs written in major and minor keys feel like? It’s a black box, Branje says. “There is no such thing as a vibrotactile song.”

To begin sorting it out, Branje asked professional music composers to write happy or sad vibrotactile songs. Someone who had spent years conveying emotion via sound might intuitively understand how to convey those same feelings through touch, he reasoned.

His early results are promising. When Branje played those compositions to volunteers and had them report what emotion they thought the songs conveyed, they often reached the same conclusion. Branje then broke down each composition by musical elements, such as tempo, amplitude, frequency, length of individual notes, and how often a piece jumped along tracks (or speakers along the back). He found that tempo, or the number of notes per second, and frequency had the greatest significance. “If you use a higher frequency and a higher tempo people are going to think your songs are happier,” he says.

Aldous Huxley, as usual, has the matter well in hand. In his 1932 masterpiece Brave New World, he describes the feelies:

"Going to the Feelies this evening, Henry?" enquired the Assistant Predestinator. "I hear the new one at the Alhambra is first-rate. There's a love scene on a bearskin rug; they say it's marvelous. Every hair of the bear reproduced. The most amazing tactual effects..."

"Take hold of these knobs on the arms of your chair," whispered Lenina. "Otherwise, you won't get any of the feely effects."
(Read more about Aldous Huxley's feelies)

Via PBS.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 2/7/2015)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Entertainment ")

Cosplay Style Wings Could Work On Moon
'They're lovely! - titanalloy struts as light and strong as bird-bones...' - Robert Heinlein, 1957.

Music Not Impossible (MNI) Vibrotactile Wearable Experience
Don't you want to experience the 'feely' effects?

Augmented and-or Virtual Reality Shoes From Google
'The auto-treadmill's bumps and gullies matched whatever terrain the goggles showed me...' - David Brin, 1994.

MSG Sphere Las Vegas, ala Star Wars
'The smoky globe, hung in the vault, was shot with colored light...' - Samuel R. Delany, 1966.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

SpaceX Requests Starlink For Starship
'... sweating, heat-blistered engineers at every interplanetary radiograph station on three planets.'

SF Writers Predicted John Deere Autonomous Tractors
'The huge plow... seemed to shake itself - and began to move back southward.'

DARPA Funding AI Fighter Pilots
'Cultured brains on a slab.'

StoryFile To Help William Shatner Become Landru
"I am Landru. I am he! All that he was, I am."

Telehealth Drones To The Rescue
'A shadow passed over him, and he looked up.'

Capture Asteroids In A Bag
'... just as a small boy catches a swift ball in his cap.'

Sony Pocket Air Conditioner Is Phil Dick's Idea!
'... he went to the hall closet to get his pith helmet and his mandatory cooling-unit.'

Is It Possible To GROW Planes And Vehicles?
'These are your rudimentary seed packages...'

Guard Dog Robot Security Check
'We still use people at the main gates, but here it's an automated sentry.'

Sheepskin Parchment Helped Medieval Lawyers Prevent Fraud
'The single sheet he held, and even the words and signatures upon it, were all integral parts of a single giant molecule...'

Space 'Hurricane' Has Been Seen
'... it was the biggest of the four hundred odd storms raging in the Fifty Suns region.'

PR2 Fencing Robot Perfect For Kwisatz Haderach-in-training
'Now, we'll work on your timing. Let me see you catch that thing sinister.'

Sole Morphing Astronaut Boots - A New Pair Of Moon Boots?
'It’s an ideal device for kangarooing along in lunar gravity.'

Mice Gestate In Mechanical Womb
'... in the Decanting Room, the newly-unbottled babes uttered their first yell of horror and amazement.'

3rd Century BC Gold Bee Is Just The Start
Bees knees, I order you to freeze!

Worlds With Underground Oceans More Conducive To Life
'There is life on Europa.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.