This project explores the use of human body as an analogue sound transmission medium. Called “Ishin-Den-Shin,” a Japanese expression for communicating through an unspoken mutual understanding, i.e. non-verbal communication, 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 communicator touches another person’s ear. In this case modulated electrostatic field creates a very small vibration of the ear lobe and, both the finger and 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 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 produces a very small vibration of a finger touching 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 for inter-personal communication and furthemore it can be transmitted from person to person via any sort of physical contact.
A Shure 55 microphone is connected to a computerfs 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.
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.
Human ear can also be used as an object producing sound: in this case the modulated electrostatic field creates a very small vibration of the ear lobe. This makes recorded sound audible only for the person touched.
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 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.
An ear was CNCed from aluminum and then annodized in black.
The visitors would slide thier hand over the ear while holding and microphone or forming a chain to hear and feel the recorded sound.
Ishin-Den-Shin exhibition space at
ARS Electronica Cyber Art 2013 Exhibition.
Honorable Mention, Interaction Category, Prix Ars Electronica 2013.
CyberArts 2013 Exhibition, Ars Electronica 2013, Linz, Austria.
The Ishin-Den-Shin project was developed at Disney Research Pittsburgh by Olivier Bau, Ivan Popyrev and Yuri Suzuki.
What applications of Ishin-Den-Shin do you have in mind?
The overall vision of Ishin-Den-Shin is to enhance everyday objects with rich sound playback capability, as I briefly explained itin this New Scientist article. The project is a part of conceptual research direction that investigsted the use of the human body as medim for data and signal communication. Touché and Capacitive Finterprinting projects are other examples of work that we do in this direction.
How many people can be in the chain?
It works best with up to 3 people.
The amount power we transmit is tiny, therefore interference depends on the sensitivity of the audio device. Headhphones based on the electro-magnetic speakers are not affected.
Did you think of this and that applications?
We probably did but we are not at liberty to discuss them.
What Disney is planning to do with this technology?
We are not a liberty to discuss business plans of the Walt Disney Company.
Ivan Poupyrev (c) 1994-2013, updated 10/1/2013