Music you can really feel — no, really

Music: Not Impossible makes backpacks and devices that allow users to feel up to 24 different sounds at once as vibrations.

wearing headphones

People talk about feeling the music all the time, but one company wants you to really feel it.

Music: Not Impossible, an offshoot of tech company Not Impossible Labs, produces backpacks and devices that translate music into vibrations.

How it works

Haptic feedback is the use of touch to communicate. For example:

  • A video game controller that vibrates when your character is hit
  • Your phone buzzing when you “click” a button

You may have even worn a haptic vest in a VR or laser tag arcade. Music: Not Impossible uses a backpack, plus ankle and wrist bands, that receive vibrations in sync with music, per The New York Times.

But it wasn’t easy to make

Musician and Music: Not Impossible’s “Chief Vibrational Officer” Daniel Belquer spent over a year perfecting the tech, which at first was bulky and often lagged.

Collaborator Jay Alan Zimmerman, a deaf composer and musician, told NYT it felt like a bunch of cell phones going off randomly.

Now, however, users can feel up to 24 sounds at a time on different parts of their bodies. And they’re not all the same vibration, but 3.9k different frequencies across five octaves.

While anyone can enjoy the tech…

… the company specifically worked with members of the deaf community to create an inclusive experience for those users. One woman told NPR that due to an auditory processing disorder, she never knows if she hears what other people do, “so it’s amazing to get those subtleties in my body.”

But another user told NYT that he didn’t want the packs to replace sign language interpreters for lyrics.

The company also requires that tickets to events offering the devices — which have included venues like NYC’s Lincoln Center — remain free for those who are deaf or hard of hearing.

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