Disney masterminds data transfer by touch

Disney, the company that gave you Small World, has developed a new messaging technology that operates by touch.

Disney researchers have developed a microphone that lets a user record a voice message and then relay that message to another person simply by touching them.

The mic converts the voice message into an inaudible signal which is transmitted to the body of the person.

It can then be transmitted from that person’s body to another person’s body through touch. The sound becomes audible when touching someone else’s ear.

The sound can’t be heard by anyone else but the person being touched, Wired reports.

Dubbed the Shure Super 55, the microphone can be connected to a computer’s sound card.

The computer then creates a loop with the recording which is sent to an amp. The recorded sound signal is then converted into a high voltage, low current in audible signal.

The output is linked to the conductive metal casing of the microphone so that the person holding the microphone will receive the inaudible version of their own message in the shape of a modulated electrostatic field around their skin.

When that person then touches another person’s ear, the electrostatic field creates a small vibration of the earlobe which, in turn, leads to the ear and the finger behaving like a speaker.

The whole system is called Ishin-Den-Shin which is Japanese for “what the mind thinks, the heart transmits”.

Developed by Olivier Bau, Ivan Poupyrev and Yuri Suzuki the method was discovered when a faulty Apple Macbook started to give off an odd vibration.

Suzuki worked out that by touching the laptop and touching another person it was possible to pass on a sound.

It took a while to get the voltage right to transmit the message and he had so many electric shocks trying to get the current and voltage right, he said.

Even at the right voltage, the person on the receiving end of the message will feel a tickling sensation.

How can this be of any remote use? Well, Suzuki, Bau and Poupyrev considered how it might be used in Disney theme parks to entertain people in queues for rides and er… well, that’s it so far.