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5G haptic suits trialled for Deaf festival-goers

Singer-songwriter Jessie Ware has called for 5G-enabled haptic suits for Deaf and hard-of-hearing music fans to be rolled out at live music venues after they were successfully trialled at a UK festival.

Developed by Vodafone and Music Not Impossible, the wearable tech made its debut during Ware’s headline set at the 20,000-cap Mighty Hoopla festival in London’s Brockwell Park earlier this month.

Using the latest haptic technology, people wearing the suits are able to feel the music through vibrations delivered across touchpoints on the wrists, ankles and torso. Innovatively, Vodafone has adapted the suits to convey the atmosphere of the crowd as well as the artist’s performance, using 5G receptors to capture the crowd noise and feed it back through the suits as vibrations in real-time.

“Music is for everyone and it’s amazing to be able to change the way my deaf and hard-of-hearing fans can experience my shows”

“When I first heard about this tech I was blown away, and to see the reactions of the fans who have tried them already has been incredible,” says Ware. “Music is for everyone, and it’s amazing to be able to change the way my deaf and hard-of-hearing fans can experience my shows.”

Ware adds she would like to see the tech go on to adopted more widely at concerts moving forward.

“I’m really excited by their potential and would love to see these suits available at as many of my performances as possible in the future,” she says.

 


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Vibrating vest lets you “hear music” through your skin

Deaf and hard of hearing people will be able to experience music through their skin, thanks to a new haptic technology developed by Not Impossible Labs.

Not Impossible Labs, a company which uses technology to solve “seemingly impossible” problems, has developed a vibrating vest which will allow people with all kinds of hearing to sense the sound of music, rather than hear it.

The vest uses haptic feedback, which is the kinesthetic reaction we receive when we touch something, or something touches us. We perceive that object according to the response we receive from that touch.

The only vibrations at live music events come from traditional speaker systems but with the new invention, deaf and hard of hearing people will be able to enjoy live music.

“Deep down, at the core of this whole concept, it’s about how we can be humans together”

Daniel Belquer, the team’s director of technology, explains the software that runs that haptic suit to Freethink, “Right now we have 24 points of vibration in the system and they’re all individually controllable. We can control frequency and amplitude. We can make a note stronger or weaker, higher or lower.”

“[This project] is not just about the experience. It’s about the community. Deep down, at the core of this whole concept, it’s about how we can be humans together.”

The project, entitled Music: Not Impossible, took years of research, development and collaboration with deaf sing-songwriter Mandy Harvey in order to engineer a complete platform for composing, translating, and sending vibrations wirelessly.

 


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