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Brief Published: 20 Sep 2013

Ishin-Den-Shin: Disney’s Human Audio Transmitter


Disney Research, the innovation and technology lab of US entertainment giant Disney, has created a device that allows people to record sound and transmit it to others through physical contact – effectively turning the human body into a walkie-talkie.

Named after a traditional Japanese mantra that translates as ‘what the mind thinks, the heart transmits’, Ishin-Den-Shin embodies the notion of communicating through unspoken, mutual understanding. It consists of a microphone that records sound and transforms it into a silent signal, which is transmitted to the body of the person holding the microphone. This secret signal only becomes audible when the person holding the microphone touches someone’s ear – allowing their finger to ‘whisper’ the recorded message.

According to Disney Research Pittsburgh, which developed the technology, a device in the microphone creates an electrostatic field around the user’s skin. “When touching another person’s ear, this modulated electrostatic field creates a very small vibration of the ear lobe,” states the website. “As a result, both the finger and the ear together form a speaker that makes the signal audible for the person touched.” The device received an honorary mention at the Ars Electronica Festival (September 5-9) in Linz, Austria.

Ishin-Den-Shin is the latest in a line of products using bone conduction to create heightened audio experiences. For more examples of this technology, see Superhuman: Pushing the Limits of Human Advancement and Play-A-Grill.