Vibrating waistcoats translate music for the deaf

An audio specialist has programmed haptic vests designed to allow spectators who are deaf or hard of hearing to experience orchestral music. This innovation breaks new ground among initiatives to improve inclusion in live music performances.

At a classical concert at Manhattan’s Lincoln Center in the US, audiences experienced the wireless waistcoats, with 24 vibration points translating the music on stage. Violins reverberate in the ribcage, while cello and bass are felt a little lower, with horns in the shoulders and often soloists in the wrists.The inventor, Patrick Hanlon is co-founder of Music: Not Impossible, an arm of Not Impossible Labs, which employs technology to try to alleviate social barriers, including those around disability.Previous methods that deaf and hard of hearing individuals used to enjoy live music included literally putting their hands on speakers or holding a balloon to feel the vibrations in their fingertips.The purpose of the waistcoats – along with the bands on the wrists or ankles – is to enable a full-body experience, creating sensations that translate the feelings that music can evoke.

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