- Title: High-tech jacket allows deaf people to feel the music
- Date: 16th October 2019
- Summary: TWINS HERMON AND HERODA BERHANE DANCING WITH FRANCESCA ROSELLA IN HER STUDIO HERMON AND HERODA BERHANE SMILING AT EACH OTHER
- Embargoed: 30th October 2019 11:04
- Keywords: haptic clothing soundshirt smart fabric Desperados CuteCircuit Hermon and Heroda Berhane sensory technology
- Location: LONDON, ENGLAND, UK
- City: LONDON, ENGLAND, UK
- Country: United Kingdom
- Topics: Arts / Culture / Entertainment,Fashion
- Reuters ID: LVA004B1CK8K7
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Twin sisters Hermon and Heroda Berhane love dancing but can't hear the music because they're both deaf, so the invention of a jacket with sensors that enables them to feel the different sounds has transformed their nights out in London clubs.
The "Sound Shirt", created by London-based fashion company CuteCircuit, has 16 sensors embedded in its fabric, so wearers can feel violins on their arms, for example, while drums beat on their backs.
The Berhane twins, who were born in Eritrea, lost their hearing when they were about 7-years-old. Their family later moved to Ethiopia, and then to the UK.
Hermon and Heroda run a fashion blog together called 'Being Her'. They say modeling the shirts has given them a brand new experience.
"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".
Sound Shirts don't come cheap, as they are expected to go on sale at more than 3,000 pounds ($3,673), but Heroda believes it's a price worth paying for deaf people who enjoy music as much as she and her sister do.
(Production: Sarah Duffy)
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