Disney Research Making Sound Touchy with Ishin-Den-Shin

By September 18, 2013

Disney Research wants to whisper to you with their fingers…can you hear them?


Disney Research is in the business of creating fantastic new technology, or finding new ways to make tech fantastic. Their newly announced project, Ishin-Den-Shin (a Japanese idiom which translates as “what the mind thinks, the heart transmits”, and basically means “heart-to-heart communication”) allows its users to “turn an audio message into an inaudible signal that is relayed by the human body.” It does this by transmitting a recorded message as an electrostatic field, which turns whatever it transfers to into a speaker.

Sounds like Disney magic, doesn’t it? Check out the magic below! (Though the video itself seems kinda smoke-and-mirrors-y, if you ask me)

So, how does it work? An explanation from the Disney Research project page:

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.

For example, touching someone’s ear transfers the signal, allowing said ear to hear the sound. It isn’t the first time I’ve seen such technology, but every time I see it, it amazes me! It’s interesting to see how different labs and companies make different uses of what I’ve come to know as “bone conduction transmission” and “conductive audio.” What makes this sort of “audio” so intriguing is that it isn’t a soundwave as we know it. Instead, it’s a conductive electrical signal, and nearly any surface can be turned into a speaker.

An awesome example of this in action uses a product by the company Max Virtual. They make, as they put it, a “bluetooth headset in a hat” called the Cynaps. You’ve already read how it works… But what does it sound like? Like this:

I’d love to see any company make this sort of technology common. It isn’t high fidelity yet, and it may not be possible to make it so… but imagine never having to wear a headset for your phone again. Imagine, in fact, if your phone had this technology and just holding it is enough to hear it? Of course, wire tapping would mean someone would literally have to just tap you to hear your conversation. Let’s not get into the security of the technology yet, though. Look instead at how incredible technology can be. Or better yet…listen.

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Bryan is a tech and gadget geek, as well as a fan of media in all its forms. Film, music, games, you name it. He also has a deep love for nearly all things indie, because sometimes the little fish have the biggest adventures. You can find him as @DieselBT pretty much anywhere on the internet.
  • Lilian Maltby

    Never even heard of Disney Research till today!