The Best Inventions of 2020
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November 19, 2020 8:56 AM EST

The SoundShirt (£550) pledges to open up the world of music by allowing wearers who are deaf to experience songs using their sense of touch rather than hearing. The garment is outfitted with 30 miniature haptic motors that vibrate according to what is being played, allowing the wearer to “feel” the music in a visceral way. Lower frequencies from instruments like drums are felt in the lower abdomen, while sounds from instruments like flutes and violins vibrate across the chest, arms and shoulders. The shirt has been used by orchestras to translate performances of works by composers like Franz Schubert and Felix Mendelssohn into tactile experiences for deaf audiences. And there are applications beyond the concert hall. “If somebody happens to be deaf and wants to go dancing with their friends,” says Francesca Rosella, a co-founder of wearable-tech brand CuteCircuit, which makes the SoundShirt, “they can just turn on the microphone and feel the beat.” —Patrick Lucas Austin

Buy now: CuteCircuit SoundShirt

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