Our discussion of the topic starts with analyzing the cycle of listening. In a closed loop listening model, the level of communication quality is related to how sender encoding message and receiver decoding message. Everything prevents or influence the message delivery process can be considered as noise in the medium. Thus, breakthrough personal territory and engage in non-verbal communication in the short distance circumstance, decrease the noise in medium with directly increase the depth of interpersonal communication.
People can hear through bone conduction, which happens when sound waves travel through teeth and bone into the inner ear. “Your teeth are great conductors of vibration...Once you vibrate your skull, your ear is set up to hear those vibrations.”
-Dr Brad Stach
We played with different ways to experiment with vibrations when Koichi (Fig. 2) accidentally tapped the speaker to his tooth!
“I felt a jolt! I could feel the vibrations up to my head and the music felt like it was inside me.”
The concept of Tastytune is built upon holistic listening that engages touch, taste, sight, and hearing. Based on the sound conduction experiments, it is very easy to transform and empower sound rhythms with vibration. The characteristics of melody are well preserved in vibration patterns. Thus people not only can enjoy music through bone conduction but also can get empowered emotional experience from enlarged listening process.
Lollipop, as a universal medium that brings sweetness and joy, is adopted into the sound conducting system. Following the same thought, a hybrid music system is created with vibration, taste, color, sound, and touch to maximize the holistic emotional experience. (Fig. 4)
The output design is a half-ball easy-grab figure that has a portable slot for customized lollipops. In a user scenario, one can press the button as representing his music mood, while the other will taste the lollipop with vibration/bone conduction hearing. The eyes of the figure(RGB-LEDs) will blink corresponding to music rhythm.
Prototyping In order to test and calibrate the vibration conductor and input sensors, we built a simplified prototype (Fig. 11) with all hardware first using arduino, three pressure sensors, music shield, audio amplifier, and speaker. During the prototyping process, we added one more speaker (vibro tansducer vp2) to get to the human-noticeable vibration level. Besides, after several user tests, we updated the base formation and detached the pressure sensor form the base. A long string was added to the "mouse" of the figure. There is three pressure sensor covered inside puffy materials as press/switch buttons for sharing music.
The physical prototype brings further thoughts about MIDI development for the product. Instead of trigger/press button to choose music, a close loop MIDI synthesizer can provide more engagement for a two person interface. The constant encoding and decoding process of music synthesizer can engage more real-time feedback for user.
Tastytunes team is taking the prototype to the Horace Mann School for the Deaf to play with guide further research into the development of this product.
This work was partially supported by the Hiroshi Ishii and the Tangible Media Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Laboratory, under its Fall 2018 Course MAS.864 Tangible Interfaces course.