Feel the Music, Literally
By Shanuka Kadupitiyage
Technology enhanced clothing is something that has been under development for quite some time, with some major successes already making their way to mass production.
Although each and every work of such apparel does serve a purpose, they have the potential to be something much more than just an easy way to control your smartphone while commuting.
The SoundShirt is a great testament to this. Designed by a company named CuteCircuit in London, it is an article of clothing like no other. Made with smart fabric, the shirt is designed for people who suffer from impaired hearing to be able to ‘listen’ to music (or in this case, feel) using special haptic feedback.
Using no attached wires to make this happen, the SoundShirt has a unisex design and is made to stretch and fit according to the person’s body size and shape. Reports say that it comes with a lifetime warranty in case something needs to be repaired and if you ever feel like getting rid of it, can be easily recycled.
Simple, practical solution
For the SoundShirt to work, it pairs with your phone over Bluetooth. Users can then control the suit using a specialised app available for download.
When in a concert or live performance, microphones must be placed next to the instruments. These pick up the music and transfer it through a digital music capture system, which converts that information into data and transmitted into the app.
The app then transmits this data into the SoundShirt, which gives the wearer touch sensations based on the received audio.
Not only concerts
The creators of the SoundShirt claim that it can do the same for pre-recorded music and even for watching movies. It can also be connected to any video game console so players can feel every move, thump and feeling during the game as they play.
In essence, this is not a product only for the hearing impaired, but it will make the biggest difference. For those who have hearing, the SoundShirt can unlock a whole new experience of sound, and might be an interesting work of technology for virtual reality systems (Ready Player One anybody?)
That extra connection
The SoundShirt can also be used as a HugShirt, meaning that people can use SoundShirt to send and receive digital hugs to another wearer, even if they are somewhere across the globe.
Because of multiple haptic sensors placed throughout the body, a user can easily record a hug using their shirt and a specialised mobile app. Then, sending a virtual hug is as easy as sending a message on chat.
Award winning tech
CuteCircuit, the company behind these two innovative concepts have achieved multiple awards and accolades for their innovative and groundbreaking idea, including becoming one of Time Magazine’s top 100 best inventions of 2020.
Tech, fashioned for a purpose
SoundShirt and HugShirt are proof that functional fashion, where style meets utility can be more than just for convenience. Fashion can be more than just expressing yourself and feeling good in your own skin. It can have meaning, and build connections, opening up new horizons for people to connect, feel and experience.