New technology enables deaf people to hear music through touch. Researchers from the University of Malaga have developed an algorithm that converts monophonic music into tactile stimuli that are transmitted via a wrist-worn device. The prototype is linked to a computer, but an advanced wearable version that could be used at concerts is the next phase of this groundbreaking technology.
The focus is on influencing mood and abilities through music as a therapy for mental disorders and pain treatment. The algorithm converts monophonic music into tangible stimuli that are transmitted via a wrist-worn device. A study with more than 50 participants was conducted to understand how the algorithm would work. Each participant wore devices around the wrist and noise-cancelling headphones to block out other noises. The results suggest that the arrangement of “tactile illusions” evokes more positive than negative emotions.
Additionally, it was discovered that the vibrations were more relaxing and energizing than the sound, evoking a distinct emotional response than the original music. Although musical elements including rhythm, pace, and melody were mostly discernible in the tactile illusions arrangement, this evoked a different emotional response than the original audio, according to the study’s authors
.Dan Scarfe, XRAI Glass CEO, 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 have hearing loss, so that they can maximize potential. ‘Whether that means being able to have 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 glasses screen. Thanks to voice recognition capabilities, the glasses can even identify who’s speaking and will soon be able to translate languages, voice tones, accents and pitch, according to XRAI Glass. Aside from allowing those without hearing ‘to see’ conversations with other people, the glasses can also open the door to other technologies, such as smart assistants.