Music: Not Impossible ecosystem sends vibrations through hardware, software and clothing to translate music into a tactile experience for everyone
TH, October 5, Nashville, TN
Last night, at the first stop of the Bud Light x Lady Gaga Dive Bar Tour, Not Impossible Labs unveiled its newest project, Music: Not Impossible (MNI), wearable technology that allows the Deaf to experience music more fully. MNI is a wireless ecosystem including hardware, software and clothing that sends vibrations to eight assigned channels across the body, replicating the array of musical instruments from a live performance or musical feed to the wearer’s body.
Earlier this year, Not Impossible unveiled the first the MNI vests at the Bud Light Factory during SXSW. Since then, the team has made substantial updates to the technology, look, and wearability of the vest, to provide a more nuanced and comfortable experience for the wearer. The final product was worn last night by concert-goers in Nashville, translating the music of Lady Gaga’s newest studio album for a deaf and hearing audience.
"Music is not about hearing or non-hearing, it’s about inclusion," said Not Impossible Labs CEO and Founder Mick Ebeling, himself a Grammy Award Nominee. “We are not trying to help the Deaf hear music the way a hearing person hears music. Instead, we’ve created a new universal language for us all to experience music equally."
The Music: Not Impossible project was led by Not Impossible’s Director of Technology Daniel Belquer; the vest was developed with Volcom, and the wrist-ankle bands developed with Stance. The vest provides live vibratory feedback to eight assigned channels, each replicating a particular instrument in the music — percussion in the ankle bands, guitar and piano in the wrist bands, vocals in the rib cage, and bass on the lower back and spine. It was tested by over 200 hearing, deaf and hard of hearing musicians and music lovers.
“You know the goose bumps you get when the tone is just right? That’s the feeling I had throughout the entire experience of wearing the vest when we were introduced to Not Impossible at Volcom’s HQ,” said Kevin Meehan, President, North America at Volcom. “We’re so stoked to be working with the Not Impossible team to create a way for our friends in the deaf community to experience the gift of music.”
Vibrations have always been a fundamental way to convey music for the Deaf, but at many concerts the volume is neither loud nor complex enough to create a deep experience. MNI addresses this issue in the Deaf community, but also enhances music for all people, regardless of hearing capability.
“At Stance, we have always been committed to promoting self-expression and original ideas so music was a natural fit,” said Taylor Shupe, Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer at Stance. “This gives us the opportunity to use our expertise in knit to create an extremely comfortable experience for wearers, allowing them to focus on the experience of the music."
Moving forward, Music: Not Impossible vests will be offered on a venue- and artist-specific basis.
About Not Impossible:
Launched in 2009, Not Impossible Labs makes the impossible possible by creating accessible technology-based solutions primarily in the areas of health, mobility and communication. Not Impossible’s first project The Eyewriter is an open source, low-cost, DIY device that enable individuals with paralysis to communicate and create using only the movement of their eyes.
Time Magazine named the Eyewriter one of the "Top 50 Inventions of 2010" and the device is now part of MoMA's permanent collection.
Project Daniel inspired the first 3D-printed prosthetic arm for those impacted by war in South Sudan. The Don’s Voice project resulted in a digital communications interface for ALS patient Don Moir, allowing him to audibly communicate. Both projects were awarded SXSW Interactive Innovation Awards in 2015 and 2016 respectively. Learn more at www.notimpossible.com.