Ishin-Den-Shin: Transmitting Sound Through Touch

Disney Research, Pittsburgh

In this project we explore the use of the human body as sound transmission medium. Called “Ishin-Den-Shin,” a Japanese expression for communicating through an unspoken mutual understanding, the technology turns an audio message into an inaudible signal that is relayed by the human body. When the communicator’s finger slightly rubs an object, this physical interaction creates an ad-hoc speaker that makes it possible to hear the recorded sounds.

A special case of Ishin-Den-Shin is when the communicator touches another person’s ear. In this case, a modulated electrostatic field creates a very small vibration of the ear lobe; the finger and the other person’s ear, together, form a speaker which makes the signal audible only for the person touched.

The Ishin-Den-Shin system includes a handheld microphone connected to a computer. When someone speaks into the microphone, the computer turns the sound into a looped recording. The recording is then converted into a high-voltage, low-current inaudible signal that flows into a thin wire connected to the interior of the microphone. This looped, inaudible signal creates a modulated electrostatic field and produces a very small vibration as the finger touches an object, forming a speaker.

The Ishin-Den-Shin technology thus can turn everyday artifacts into interactive sound devices without the need to instrument them with any special technological apparatus. It can be used to explore new approaches for inter-personal communication and can be used to transmit sound from person to person via any sort of physical contact.

[Press Release]

Technical Details

RE_diagram

A Shure 55 microphone is connected to a computer’s sound card. The microphone is recording as soon as person voice is detected. The computer creates a loop with the recording which is then sent back to an amplification driver. This amplification driver converts the recorded sound signal into a high voltage, low current inaudible signal that is connected to the conductive metallic casing of the microphone. When holding the microphone, the visitor comes in contact with the inaudible, high voltage, low power version of the recorded sound. This creates a modulated electrostatic filed around the visitors’ skin. When touching another person’s ear, this modulated electrostatic field creates a very small vibration of the ear lobe. As a result, both the finger and the ear together form a speaker which makes the signal audible for the person touched. The inaudible signal can be transmitted from body to body, using any sort of physical contact. The same principle also works with inanimate objects as explained below.

Awards

PX_2013_logo_001Ishin-Den-Shin recieved an Honorary Mention in Interactive Category at ARS Electronica’s PRIX ARS 2013, an International Competition of Cyberarts.

Team and Credits

The Ishin-den-shin installation has been designed and developed at Disney Research Pittsburgh by Yuri Suzuki, Olivier Bau and Ivan Poupyrev. Matthew Glisson, Alex Rothera and Yoshio Ishiguro joined the Ishin-Den-Shin team for the design and production of the Cyber Arts 2013 exhibition.

Contact

Email: drinfo [at] disneyresearch [dot] com

Gallery

A Shure 55 microphone is connected to a computer’s sound card and instrumented with a custom button.

A Shure 55 microphone is connected to a computer’s sound card and instrumented with a custom button.

When a person presses the button and the microphone detects sound of amplitude higher than a set threshold, a person's voice is recorded and stored as a sound loop.

When a person presses the button and the microphone detects sound of amplitude higher than a set threshold, a person’s voice is recorded and stored as a sound loop.

This amplification driver converts the sound loop into a high voltage, low current (~300 Vpp, ~50 mA) inaudible signal which is applied to the conductive metallic casing of the microphone via an additional connector. When holding the microphone, the visitor comes in contact with the inaudible, high voltage, low power version of the recorded sound. This creates a modulated electrostatic field around the person's body. When touching and sliding hand on an object such this modulated electrostatic field creates a very small vibrations. As a result, both the finger and the object together form a speaker, that makes the signal audible.

This amplification driver converts the sound loop into a high voltage, low current (~300 Vpp, ~50 mA) inaudible signal which is applied to the conductive metallic casing of the microphone via an additional connector. When holding the microphone, the visitor comes in contact with the inaudible, high voltage, low power version of the recorded sound. This creates a modulated electrostatic field around the person’s body. When touching and sliding hand on an object such this modulated electrostatic field creates a very small vibrations. As a result, both the finger and the object together form a speaker, that makes the signal audible.

An ear was CNCed from aluminum and then annodized in black.

An artificial aluminum ear was used in installation of Ishin-Den-Shin at ARS electronica.

Ishin-Den-Shin explores physicality and intimacy in digital audio communication where messages can be recorded and stored on the microphone.

Ishin-Den-Shin explores physicality and intimacy in digital audio communication where messages can be recorded and stored on the microphone.

The sound can be heard only by the ear which is touched, as if the finger is whispering the recorded sounds.

The sound can be heard only by the ear which is touched, as if the finger is whispering the recorded sounds.

The audio recording can be transmitted by physical contact, from body to body. Secrets, messages and whispers can then be transmitted from person to person in physical contact with each others.

The audio recording can be transmitted by physical contact, from body to body. Secrets, messages and whispers can then be transmitted from person to person in physical contact with each others.





Ishin-Den-Shin was exhibited at Cyber Arts 2013 Exhibition in Linz.

Ishin-Den-Shin was exhibited at Cyber Arts 2013 Exhibition in Linz.

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