Disney Research Invents Magic Fingertip Microphone

Ishin-Denshin – the Fingertip Microphone demonstration from Disney Research.

Several years ago, guests visiting the Disneyland Resort could experience a “haircut” via soundwaves when visiting Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln in the Opera House on Main Street, USA. A new invention could potentially render that effect basically obsolete.

A scientist with Disney Research has invented a new type of sound transmitting device that creates a world of sound…with your fingertip. The Ishin-Denshin (wordless/unspoken understanding roughly translated, sort of like telepathy) allows one person to whisper into a microphone. This then converts the sound energy into electric energy and creates an electrostatic field around the whisperer’s body. They than can touch another person and the electrostatic field will then send vibrations will cause the person’s earlobe to vibrate and recreate sound. Voila, a new fingertip microphone system!

“If you remember the beginning of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Galaxy, when the Vogons arrive to blow up the Earth, they turn every object on Earth into a perfect hi-fi PA system that is used to announce that the Earth is going to be destroyed. Ishin-Denshin is something along those lines, minus destruction of the Earth,” said Inventor Ivan Poupyrev of  Disney Research in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to NewScientist in an interview.

“Storytelling is one large application area where we are interested, when touching and rubbing objects (say Aladdin’s lamp) is part of the game or storytelling experience,”  Poupyrev said regarding uses for Disney. “Anything new and unusual is of course very important to create magical experiences.”

The possibilities for this new technology are endless. While currently it doesn’t seem suited for the application mentioned from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Galaxy, it could definitely up the interactive experience level at Disney Theme Parks. Experiences could become more immersive while not necessarily causing noise for those who aren’t participating in the same experience as it would be individualized. It could help create experiences that are tailored to the individual experiencing them.

What do you think of this new technology? Will it ever be used? If you were a blue sky imagineer, what ideas would you dream up for use of the Ishin-Denshin?




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