The Soundshirt, created so that the deaf can feel the music. (Image via Onmanorama - Malayala Manorama)

'Soundshirt', a musical jacket for the deaf

An attire called Soundshirt which was released by a London-based fashion company, CuteCircuit, allows deaf people to “feel” the music. By the attire, CuteCircuit hopes that the deaf can also enjoy live concerts, orchestral, or musical performances.

The Soundshirt is equipped with 16 micro-actuators in its fabric. These actuators capture the data of real-time music playing on stage. Therefore, to make it work, Soundshirt needs to be connected to a computer system that captured the sound on the live stage.

Soundshirt was designed to deliver haptic sensations of music to the body where it should be. For example, by wearing Soundshirt, the deaf may feel the shrill of the violins on their arms or around their necks and the beats of the drums on their back.

The co-founder and chief creative officer of Cute Circuit, Francesca Rosella, said that there are no wires in the Soundshirt, only smart, conductive soft stretch fabrics with microelectronics. Thus, Soundshirt is comfortable for lengthy use.

For the first users, Hermon and Heroda Berhane, twins who lost their hearing at the age of two, could feel the musical sensations around their bodies once more with Soundshirt. The twins describe the invention as “life-changing”.

However, the Soundshirt does not come cheaply. It is sold at £3,000 (US$3,673), a price deemed reasonable for the deaf to feel the music again.