Music Not Impossible (MNI) Vibrotactile Wearable Experience
A new wearable device allows both deaf and hearing concert attendees to share a music experience.
200 music fans gathered at the Bunkhouse Saloon in downtown Las Vegas for a private live concert with a unique twist: several of the fans were deaf. The concert served as a beta test for new wearable technology that allows deaf and hearing users alike to experience musical vibrations through their skin for a true "surround body" experience.
The tech is called Music: Not Impossible (M:NI), and it's the brainchild of former Hollywood producer turned entrepreneur Mick Ebeling, founder and CEO of Not Impossible Labs. The user's kit includes two battery-powered wristbands, two ankle bands, and a harness that fits across the back and shoulders. It interfaces directly with a venue's sound system and sends electrical pulses (coordinated with colored LED lights) corresponding to various tracks in the music to the sensors against the skin. Lady Gaga, Hans Zimmer, and Pharrell are fans, with the latter declaring he had "felt the future" after trying M:NI out. The Las Vegas show was presented by Zappos Adaptive and the Church of Rock & Roll.
"We're not trying to replace music," said Daniel Belquer, director of technology for Not Impossible Labs. "We're trying to provide an experience that relates to music. It's less a new technology and more a new form of expression that, instead of going through the ears, goes through the skin. When you feel it, you understand it."
In his 1932 masterpiece Brave New World, Aldous Huxley 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)