Vibrating wristband gives deaf people a new way to ‘hear’

1-16-2019 david eagleman neosensory buzz prototypes x
Image credit: NeoSensory

Housed inside a wristband slightly bigger than a Fitbit, the Buzz has a microphone that picks up sound and a computer chip that breaks it into eight frequency ranges. Each frequency range links to a built-in micromotor. When sound from a specific range activates the corresponding motor, it buzzes slightly. It’s more than a tingle but less than a bee sting. For example, when [creator and neuroscientist David] Eagleman says the word “touch,” his baritone drone of the “uh” sound in the middle of the word buzzes the left side of my wrist, and then the higher-pitch “ch” that ends the word buzzes the right.

[Y[ou might suspect that they are new tools for the deaf. And you’d be right, but only to a point. That’s because these devices can do much more. While they are capable of turning sound into touch, they actually can do the same with almost any data stream. Eagleman has versions that work with images, the major difference being that the microphone capturing sound is replaced by a camera capturing video.

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Here’s the part that’s really nutty: With a few days of practice, anyone can learn to interpret these buzzes, resulting in either a prosthetic sense that replaces a missing one or a superpower that gives you an entirely new way to detect the world.

Read full, original post: The wristband that gives you superpowers

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