Deaf News: No jokes about bum notes please – Canadian orchestra to provide deaf visitors with vibrating chairs

Posted on November 29, 2013

A newly designed vibrating, audio-tactile device  chair will be offered to deaf members of the audience at the forthcoming Orchestra London Christmas Concert in Canada.

The Emoti-Chair, which was developed in conjunction with Ryerson University’s Inclusive Media and Design Centre, works by picking up sounds with a microphone, running them through an amplifier and transforming them into vibrations.

Local media artist, David Bobier, helped to develop the chair. He said: “It’s a new way of experiencing sound. It allows the deaf to experience sound through vibration.”

He added that the technology can recreate a wide range of sounds, by running the vibrations along the audience member’s back. The chairs can reproduce frequencies ranging from about 100 hertz to 10,000 hertz.

“Typically, deaf people are more sensitive to tactile vibrations,” said Bobier. “And the skin is the membrane for receiving the impulses.”

The chairs will be provided for about a dozen spectators with hearing loss at  A Christmas Carol, on December 11th. The event will raise funds for the local Unity Project homeless agency.

“This is certainly the most sophisticated design that I’m aware of, in terms of the range of frequency and the versatility within the software,” says Bobier. “And the applications are wide-ranging.”

Bobier founded VibraFusionLab, a collective focusing on multi-sensory art, after being inspired by his two deaf children.

“That was the initial connection,” he says. “When they were young, if we were out somewhere and there was music, they’d put their hands on the speaker. As an artist, that had a huge impact on my work . . . and I started thinking how do we create a more inclusive experience for an audience and allow deaf people to appreciate and enjoy, say, Orchestra London.”

The Christmas concert will be the first large-scale use of the chairs, valued at between $7,000 and $10,000 each, but Bonier has hopes for further development in the future.

by Emily Howlett

Read the original article here.


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