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April 15, 2010

'Emotichair' helps people feel the music

Posted: 11:19 AM ET

Say you're watching a scary movie. The tension builds. The villain is about to grab someone. There's no dialogue, just ominous music.

If you can't hear, all you get is a caption that may say something like "scary music playing."

"Of course, that's not very scary at all, and, in fact, it probably takes away from the experience," said Carmen Branje, a researcher at the Center for Learning Technology in Toronto, Canada.

That makes it hard to really get an emotional sense of what's going on.

Cue a possible solution: Find a way to make people, especially those who can't hear, actually feel the music.

That's the idea behind a prototype called the Emotichair, which Branje and colleague Maria Karam demonstrated this week at the Computer-Human Interaction Conference here in Atlanta, Georgia.

Emotichair is basically just a camping chair fitted with speakers that play at different frequencies, vibrating a person's upper back with high pitches and the bottom of a person's thighs with lower ranges.

All of the emotional content of a song may not come across in these vibrations, Branje concedes, but he says much of it does.

"You experience the play between the different elements of the music," he said. "And what we've found is people were able to tell the emotion of the piece" just by feeling it vibrate their back and legs.

Karam, who said the Emotichair has been 4 years and $500,000 in development, said the chair essentially makes a person hear with their body.

"We're just turning your skin into a cochlea," she said. "Your skin is going to be like an ear."

The Emotichair concept will be available for purchase starting in September. One chair costs between $500 and $1,000, and the chairs likely will be tested in two Canadian movie theaters in coming months, she said.

One big problem with the chair: It's super noisy. Low-quality speakers create the vibrations on the back of the chair, and they buzz and bark while the chair is in use. That could be a problem in movie theater or concert settings, although Karam said the chair has been used at acoustic concerts with no problem.

What do you think? Does the chair sound useful, particularly for deaf people or those who are hard of hearing? Or is it just an expensive gimmick?

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Filed under: Music • technology


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Cole   April 15th, 2010 11:58 am ET

Waste of money.


Timothy   April 15th, 2010 12:00 pm ET

I have deaf in-laws and this seems a little pricey. Deaf people are not ordinarily in income brackets that can afford them such luxuries. However, a removable pad like the chair massager that I have (and don't use) could benefit hearing people as well for the home.


Bob   April 15th, 2010 12:22 pm ET

Been done before –
Intensor Chair – Video Game Chair with 5 speakers built in.
Speakerchair.com as well.

waste of time and money and expensive gadget.


pete   April 15th, 2010 3:50 pm ET

why bother? Just fit the stereo system speakers around the couch, place the subwoofer right next to it, and turn the volume up to the max. That's how they've been doing it for YEARS. Poor neighbors tho.


Todd   April 15th, 2010 4:20 pm ET

"Emotichair is basically just a camping chair fitted with speakers that play at different frequencies, vibrating a person's upper back with high pitches and the bottom of a person's thighs with lower ranges."

Sounds like a day at my parent's house.


Una silla para ayudar a sentir la música (eng)   April 16th, 2010 2:46 pm ET

[...] Una silla para ayudar a sentir la música (eng) scitech.blogs.cnn.com/2010/04/15/emotichair-helps-people-fee...  por quays hace 5 minutos [...]


kalel of krypton   April 16th, 2010 4:55 pm ET

coolest invention i have seen in the past 10 years.
as for the vibrations all products are glitchy at first.


Sency   April 16th, 2010 10:30 pm ET

this invention is very interesting – very interesting

http://www.sency.com/emotichair.htm


Gertsoge   April 17th, 2010 4:46 pm ET

I think, the 'Emotichair' is interesting, but it cannot to help deaf men to feel 100% pleasure for music.

I know one interesting site for / about deaf, but there texts are only Ukrainian and russian languages.

News paper "Our life" from Ukrainian Department Deaf people – http://nashe-zhyttia.org.ua


Kam   April 18th, 2010 3:23 pm ET

I wonder if this was designed with the input from the deaf community? My deaf friends already deal with this with regular speakers and subwoofer to feel the bass. I guess it's cool that you can feel it all over your body.


Grrr   April 18th, 2010 7:45 pm ET

Stupid implementation of an old idea. Works much better with just vibrations directly against the head or collar bones, without all the problems with atmospheric bleed from speakers. Dumb dumb dumb.


Minkis   April 19th, 2010 9:27 am ET

wats a deaf?


S.C.W.   April 19th, 2010 7:48 pm ET

I wish I'd had one for my mom after she became deaf. I would have gladly paid $1,000 for one. Especially since the $5,000 hearing aids didn't do anything for her.


Monkey   April 20th, 2010 9:49 am ET

The comments are great, even the negative ones... but I have to say that this is not just the same old idea, it is very different, and unless you understand what is going on, it may be quite easy to think this is no different than feeling stereo speakers.

Actually, the theory behind this is very unique, and very relevant from a tactile point of view. This is not specifically targeting the Deaf community, rather, it is a system aimed at helping people to improve the tactile senses. It can help us learn how to better use the skin to process complex information.

Over and out.


TAMMY!   April 21st, 2010 1:33 am ET

WHO CARES ABOUT DEAF PEOPLE?


Ganar » Blog Archive » … en esta ocasión, dura lata…   April 21st, 2010 4:05 pm ET

[...] http://scitech.blogs.cnn.com/2010/04/15/emotichair-helps-people-feel-the-music/ [...]


Mark   April 21st, 2010 4:22 pm ET

It took 1/2 million dollars to tape some foam to a beach chair and attach some speakers? Who are these guys, Haliburton?


IzzysGirl   April 21st, 2010 4:51 pm ET

Tammy . . . lovely. I do, for one.


Cognitive Design » Blog Archive » Cognitive Design Innovations at CHI 2010   May 11th, 2010 3:11 pm ET

[...] 1. Emotichair which allows you to directly feel the emotional content of music. [...]


barb   June 10th, 2010 1:54 pm ET

I be interested to hear from deaf and hoh people, how many have used this chair? If you could get rid of the excess noise when the chair is in use deaf and hoh may experience an instrumental concert better than they are able to now.
Good job, well done you are a great inspiration to those of us who are looking for ways to enhance music for all.


Alex   December 27th, 2010 9:12 am ET

Very interesting and cool!)
-
welcome to site of organization by deaf children and teens "Our happy life" – http://www.deaf-deti.org.ua


Meet the huggable, semi-robotic (and semi-creepy) pillow phone – What's Next - CNN.com Blogs   April 30th, 2012 12:08 pm ET

[...] via touch, or to enhance media-viewing with haptic feedback. A couple we've reported on: The Emotichair aims to augment the movie-going experience by sending vibrations into the viewer's spine; and there have been various attempts to let [...]


irobotic » Blog Archive » Meet the huggable, semi-robotic (and semi-creepy) pillow phone …   April 30th, 2012 4:56 pm ET

[...] via touch, or to enhance media-viewing with haptic feedback. A couple we've reported on: The Emotichair aims to augment the movie-going experience by sending vibrations into the viewer's spine; and there have been various attempts to let [...]


Meet the huggable, semi-robotic (and semi-creepy) pillow phone | Bangladesh News   May 1st, 2012 8:21 am ET

[...] via touch, or to enhance media-viewing with haptic feedback. A couple we've reported on: The Emotichair aims to augment the movie-going experience by sending vibrations into the viewer's spine; and there have been various attempts to let [...]


Una almohada te abraza ‘al ritmo’ de tus seres queridos - BB.COM.VE   May 5th, 2012 1:04 pm ET

[...] par de los que hemos informado en: La Emotisilla aumenta la experiencia de las películas mandando vibraciones a la columna de los observadores; y ha habido varios intentos de dejar que las [...]


In home Personal training Long Island   December 5th, 2013 9:29 am ET

Way to go Center for Learning Technology! We forget how hard life can be sometimes. Could you imagine not being able to hear. We all have gotten emotional from music? I think this is a great way for people to get the emotional connection that can't through hearing. Great job, Branje and Maria Karam


Kurt Lazano   January 4th, 2014 11:45 pm ET

Information that might be needed a lot of people ..! Keep on sharing for a better life..


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