The intersection of art and science can be a bit on the weird side (tiny jackets made of stem cells, anyone?). But if this new art project works as advertised, it’s pretty neat.
This piece of retainer-like jewelry is the creation of Aisen Chacin, a student at Parsons School of Design in New York. It differs in one very important way from the standard rapper’s grill: it includes a motor hooked up to the headphone jack of an iPod that lies flush against the wearer’s palate. To play your tunes, you manipulate the iPod’s controls with your tongue, and, thanks to the pulsing of the motor against your teeth, you can hear the music.
That’s thanks to a phenomenon called bone conduction, which allows sound to be transmitted to your hearing apparatus by the vibration of bones rather than the vibration of air hitting your ear drum. It’s why your voice on a recording sounds different than the voice you hear when you speak, and it’s the basis of certain hearing aids, as well as some headsets worn by divers so they can receive messages from people out of the water. In fact, it was Hugo Gernsback, renowned editor of pulp science fiction magazines and namesake of the Hugo Awards, who, in 1923, came up with the idea of a bone-conducting hearing aid. You can see drawings of it here.
Imagine flipping through pictures on your iPod as you listen to the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine, but instead of hearing the Fab Four’s familiar tune, something slightly different tickles your eardrums—and it changes with each snapshot. The tempo slows when you view a Rembrandt still life, the volume goes up with the blurred image of a headbanger, and creepy laughter resounds as you look upon a dark, moonlit landscape. This is more or less what a new iPod and iPhone software application aims to do, filtering and slightly modifying songs depending on what’s showing on your screen.
As Apple explained in a patent it published last week, they’ve developed an algorithm that looks at image data and determines “one or more characteristics,” such as “sharpness, brightness, motion, magnification, zoom setting,” and others. Next, an audio processor translates these photo observations into variations in tempo, volume, and pitch—adding its own sound effects to boot. The end result is a music experience that’s fully integrated with your photo album (and some would argue, as gratuitous, stupid, and insanely fun as Apple’s Photo Booth software). And it doesn’t stop there. Read More
If you hand your grandma an iPod and tell her to “shuffle,” chances are she’ll jump to her feet and start doing a shuffling two-step. So we don’t blame this 13-year-old kid from Britain, who took three whole days to realize that there was a Side B to the tape he popped in his dad’s old Walkman.
In an article for BBC’s magazine, 13-year-old Scott Campbell explains how he traded his iPod for a Sony Walkman for one week. He was clearly shocked by what his dad told him was “the iPod of its day” when it was introduced 30 years ago. He is also mildly appalled at the sheer bulk of the contraption. Scott writes:
From a practical point of view, the Walkman is rather cumbersome, and it is certainly not pocket-sized, unless you have large pockets. It comes with a handy belt clip screwed on to the back, yet the weight of the unit is enough to haul down a low-slung pair of combats.
Imagine a device that’s like The Clapper on speed: A smile, finger gesture, or wink can start up your washing machine. Or control your iPod. Or tell your cell phone to call your mom. Now, this wonder-remote is a reality. A new gadget that looks just like a pair of ear buds can measure facial expressions to control electronic devices—so winking your right eye, for example, will change the song on your iPod.
The “Mimi Switch,” developed by Kazuhiro Taniguchi, a Japanese scientist, uses infrared sensors to measure movements inside the ear, which are triggered by various facial expressions, and then transmits signals to a micro-computer that controls electronic devices. It’s pretty much a hands-free remote control for anything electronic. It stores and can even interpret data, allowing it to customize itself to individual users, as Taniguchi told AFP: “If it judges that you aren’t smiling enough, it may play a cheerful song.” Read More