The SoundShirt brings media to life in a truly immersive way: a shirt that allows deaf and hearing audience members to experience music and AR enhanced by touch (haptic) sensations. During a live or virtual performance the wearer physically experiences each musical passage, different instruments corresponding to locations on the garment; for example the violin along the arms. It brings media to life to be felt physically, live, in-realtime, on the body in a tactile language unique to each piece of music being performed, opening new and diverse ways of creating immersion in music, gaming, and experiences for all audiences.
The SoundShirt truly allows multi-sensory experiences to be shared by everyone.
The Soundshirt features 30 micro-actuators embedded in the fabric of the garment, these actuators receive wirelessly and in real-time the music/sound, transformed in data, that is captured on stage while the orchestra is playing or during a videogame play. 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, and the steps of a Titan can be felt in all their power while playing a video game.
Essentially the entire soundscape comes to life as a language composed of a series of haptic (touch-like) sensations across the torso of the person wearing the shirt. The design of the shirt is comfortable and made of soft stretch fabric, there are no wires in the garment as it is built using the most advanced smart textiles and wearable technology.
The SoundShirt features especially developed smart textiles; there are no wires at all, making this piece of wearable technology comfortable, soft, and stretchable to fit different sizes. All of the conductive pathways within the garment are composed of woven conductive textiles that are seamlessly integrated into the fabric. The exterior visual decoration of the garment combines laser cut elements and high-resolution digital fabric printing to create the striking design. The design visualises the relationship between vibrations and sound waves modulating in different frequencies. The connecting lines also serve as a diagram of the underlying data network, stretchable micro-electronic circuitry, and 3D details, present within the garment and otherwise invisible, that control the plurality of actuators inside the SoundShirt.
When the SoundShirt is used for a live event (a classical music concert or a rock concert) a number of microphones are positioned on stage nearby each instrument (violin, viola, drums, guitar, voice, etc.) and connected to an Audio Interface via standard XLR audio cables, this is an analogue to digital music capture system that transforms the music being played into data that is analysed by the Q Software, running on the MAC or PC, that transforms this data into touch sensations in real-time and broadcasts wirelessly to the SoundShirts of the audience so that the wearers can feel the sound.
The Q Pro Software is able to receive multiple instruments (channels) both live or prerecorded and it allows musicians to enhance specific tracks when needed.
The Q Pro software for laptop and desktop MAC and PC allows professional users to craft specific events using the SoundShirt. The Q Pro software is a powerful tool for composing music and for live experiences such as concerts and sports events.
The Q Pro software can broadcast touch data to multiple SoundShirts at the same time both in a synchronous and asynchronous manner for multi-user art installations, events, and gaming experiences.
The Q Pro Software can also receive XLR input directly from a DJ console or an audio interface with multiple microphone inputs such as the ones we use for orchestras and live events.
The mobile version of the software allows to feel pre-recorded stereo music without the need for multitrack input, so anyone can get their favourite track from their phone and feel it. Any stereo track can be split into left and right channels and each channel is then split again into base, mid-low, mid-high, and treble.
In this way, similar to what happens during a live concert, the different parts of the SoundShirt activate at different times and recreate a more immersive feel. It feels like being at a rock concert while on the daily commute, and makes the wearer feel physically immersed in the story while watching a movie or playing a video game at home.
The SoundShirt can connect to any video game console, such as a PlayStation for example, and transform sounds into haptics in realtime during gameplay. Playing games with friends is even more fun, with the SoundShirt both you and your friends could feel the game at the same time, and you can feel what the players are feeling during an esports tournament.
For developers looking to create specific haptic features for their games we are happy to provide the SoundShirt API, in this way you can integrate direct control of every haptic actuator of the SoundShirt directly into your game for an even more immersive and detailed game experience.
The SoundShirt has recently won a number of Awards thanks to its inclusive design. It received the UNESCO Netexplo Award 2019 for Technology that Improves Life, a nomination for the STARTS Prize, and three Honourable Mentions in the Fast Company Innovation by Design Awards in the Experimental, Fashion and Beauty, and Social Good categories.
The SoundShirt has also been exhibited at the World Economic Forum in Davos, and is part of the Cooper Hewitt exhibit Access + Ability, the Wired the Wear exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, the A Queen Within: Adorned Archetypes exhibit on tour in the USA, and the Make Music Day with the London Symphony Orchestra.