Vest translates sound into vibration for the hearing impaired
by Sean Buckley
When we think about gadgets to aid the hearing impaired, cochlear implants usually come to mind — but these devices are expensive and require invasive surgery. Neuroscientist Dr. David Eagleman and graduate student Scott Novich have another idea: sensory substation clothing. The two are developing a hearing device that you wear on your torso. It’s called the Vibrotactile Extra-Sensory Transducer (or simply “Vest” for short) and it translates sound into tactile feedback. Eaglman says that with training, the brain can actually learn to translate Vest’s vibrations into useful data — meaning that wearers could potentially “hear” through their skin.
It sounds insane, but Eagleman says it’s not all that different than from how hearing works naturally. The brain, he explains, can’t actually hear — it’s just interpreting electrical signals . . .