A team of MIT scientists and workers at the Rhode Island School of Design designed a listening shirt. Yes, it may sound weird, almost out of a sci-fi movie, but it’s totally real. It is made with a cloth with a mechanism inspired by the meaning of human earwhich transforms sound vibrations into electrical signals.
The result is not uncomfortable. In fact, although it is a little heavier than a conventional shirt, it is much more lighter than a denim jacket. And the best thing is that it has some of the coolest apps.
On the one hand, the listening shirt can act as a loudspeaker for people hearing problems. On the other hand, it is able to quickly detect heart rhythm failure heart patients and send relevant signals so that action can be taken as soon as possible.
Also, as if that weren’t enough, can communicate. Come on, in the future, we could communicate with our loved ones through our shirts. If we continue like this black mirror It will end up looking more like a costumbrista series.
impersonators of the sense of hearing
In general, the human ear works from waves and electrical signals. Sound reaches it in the form of pressure waves. Once there, make a first stop in the ear-drumwhere the pressure waves transform into mechanical vibration.
Later, these move along a chain made up of small ossiclesuntil it reaches the inner ear, where cochleawhich translates them into the language our brain reads best: electrical signals.
The authors of the study which has just been published in Nature they thought something similar could be done with fabric. This would be an unusual use, as it is more common to use fabrics to dampen sound, not to process it. But in this case, they had a few tricks up their sleeve. To start, they used a piezoelectric fabric. This means that it is capable of producing an electrical signal when deformed. Moreover, it consisted of very soft fiberscapable of deforming even with the slightest vibration produced by sound.
These special fibers have been woven with conventional threads, since the goal was that the end result should not be too far from any other fabric. With it, any clothing could be made, although for now these researchers have started with a shirt that listens. But what are its applications?
A tuned shirt to watch over our health
The first tests carried out with this listening shirt show that it is capable of interpreting the electrical signals coming from a sound as light as a silent library at the roar of a road congested with traffic.
This gives it various applications. On the one hand, its ability to discern small sound variations makes it an excellent detector of heart rhythm abnormalities. Thus, patients can have non-invasive, continuous, easy and long-term follow-up.
In fact, the first tests of this application of the shirt you hear about have been so positive that these scientists believe that the same fabric could be used to make clothes for Pregnant to detect fetal heartbeats. Additionally, it may help people with hearing problems.
But the uses of the shirt you hear about go far beyond health. Can also be used as speakerto be able to answer phone calls through clothes.
And, finally, we must not forget that a fabric is not only used to make clothes. It could also be used for other purposes. For example, as MIT scientists explain in a statement, the fabric can be integrated into the building materials of the spaceships to detect the impact of dust that can be harmful to the structure.
Or even add it to the walls of buildings to detect small vibrations related to cracks or stresses. We could literally hear if the walls were starting to crack. But long before, it was actually detectable to the human ear. And, above all, long before it becomes dangerous.
In the future, a simple piece of fabric can take our hearing to unimaginable places. It’s not just a question of fashion.