- Title: Deaf twins 'feel' music thanks to haptic jackets
- Date: 11th October 2019
- Summary: TWINS HERMON AND HERODA BERHANE DANCING WITH FRANCESCA IN HER STUDIO HERMON AND HERODA BERHANE SMILING AT EACH OTHER
- Embargoed: 25th October 2019 16:41
- Keywords: haptic clothing soundshirt smart fabric haptic Desperados CuteCircuit
- Location: LONDON, ENGLAND, UK
- City: LONDON, ENGLAND, UK
- Country: United Kingdom
- Topics: Arts / Culture / Entertainment,Fashion
- Reuters ID: LVA006B0NMUS9
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Deaf twin sisters Hermon and Heroda Berhane have been given the opportunity to enjoy music by feeling it through their clothing.
The Sound Shirt haptic jacket allows a deaf person to feel music on their skin where live music is translated into data in real-time and communicated to the wearer via 16 micro-actuators embedded in the fabric of the garment.
In this way the violins can be felt on the arms and the drums on the back creating a fully immersive feeling for a deaf audience member.
Hermon and Heroda lost their hearing at a young age but thanks to this technology they can enjoy a night out dancing to music. "It's almost like feeling the depth of the music. It just feels as though we can move along with it. So it's another sensation that's really different," said Hermon Berhane via an interpreter reading her sign language.
Heroda added: "And I think it could definitely change our lives."
Francesca Rosella is the co-founder and chief creative officer of CuteCircuit and she explains that the shirt is made using smart fabrics. "Inside the shirt - that by the way is completely textiles, there are no wires inside, so we're only using smart fabrics - we have a combination of microelectronics, that is very thin and flexible, and conductive fabrics. All these little electronic motors are connected with these conductive fabrics so that the garment is soft and stretchable."
The process for setting up the shirt takes some co-ordination. Microphones are installed on stage in a venue for each instrument, music is sent in real time to a computer where software analyses it and translates it into touch sensations. This is then sent wirelessly to the garment, all in real time.
The company is no stranger to sensory technology. It originally designed the "Hug Shirt" which was a piece of clothing created for people to send virtual hugs to friends over a distance. The Symphoniker Orchestra in Hamburg asked them if they could replicate the design to work with sounds, so they went about designing this software and, after three years of trial and error, the Sound Shirt was born.
The clothing has received warm reviews from blind and autistic people, as well as those without any sensory issues and the company hasn't stopped with sound. The designers have also come up with garments that communicate over distance, change colour and are controlled via an app. They call it the "future of fashion".
The consumer version of the Sound Shirt will involve an app so that users are in control of. The price for one is projected to be upwards of Â£3,000, but for some the experience is priceless.
(Production: Stuart McDill, Sarah Duffy)
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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