Disney makes the touches sound with the new technology, Ishin-Den-Shin, which is translated from Japanese as “what the mind thinks, the heart transmits.” The innovation allows to transmit a sound from a body of one person to the ear of another one—through a physical contact, not in a traditional, “mouth-to-ear” way.
The organic speaker technology, developed by Disney Research in Pittsburgh, takes telepathy into the physical world. The installation that makes the magic possible includes the Shure 55 microphone, connected to a computer’s sound card, that can record sounds while the speaker is holding it. The audio is then transformed into a signal, and this audio wave “lives” in the speaker’s body. It can be transmitted to the other person by touching his or her ear with a finger. The recipient and no one else will hear the message which is whispered through the physical contact. See the technology in action below.
“The microphone is recording as soon as a sound of amplitude higher than a set threshold is sensed. The computer then creates a loop with the recording that is sent back to an amplification driver [that] converts the recorded sound signal into a high voltage, low current (<300 Vpp, <50 uA) inaudible signal,” explains Disney Research on the project’s page. “When holding the microphone, the visitor comes in contact with the inaudible, high voltage, low power version of the recorded sound. This creates a modulated electrostatic filed around the visitors’ skin. When touching another person’s ear, this modulated electrostatic field creates a very small vibration of the ear lobe. As a result, both the finger and the ear together form a speaker that makes the signal audible for the person touched.”
So far, Disney hasn’t commented on how it’s going to integrate the new technology into its products.