First-ever concert for the deaf to be staged in Toronto
The Emoti-Chair, an audio-tactile device developed by Ryerson University, promises to ensure good vibrations for the hearing impaired by translating live music into mechanical responses
On 5 March, a rock concert will take place at a small club in Toronto, Canada. And it will be solely for the enjoyment of deaf people.
Ryerson University's Centre of Learning Technology and the Science of Music, Auditory Research and Technology Lab have announced what they call the first-ever concert for the hearing impaired. Performances by Fox Jaws, Hollywood Swank, the Dufraines and others will showcase a set of Emoti-Chairs, devices that translate music into a series of tactile sensations. Yes, the Emoti-Chairs vibrate. And apparently, they really rock.
Emoti-Chairs are the work of Ryerson University's Alternative Sensory Information Displays (ASID) project. A computer inside each chair analyses sound frequencies using a similar mapping to the human cochlea. These frequencies are then translated into mechanical responses – including motion, vibration, and blasts of air on the face.
Besides the Emoti-Chairs, the concert will also use open captioning, interpreters and music visualisation to complement the live music experience.
Of course, the March concert will not just be a test-bed for ASID's research – it will also help determine whether you can judge music without hearing it. Will concert-goers be able to tell Hollywood Swank from the Beatles, the Dufraines from the White Stripes? Emoti-Chairs could save music critics an awful lot of headaches.