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Telepathy comes to life with Disney’s Ishin-Den-Shin

Shruti Sharma |
September 13, 2013 | 8:41 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Ishin-Den-Shin Technology - Disney Research
Ishin-Den-Shin Technology - Disney Research
With Disney Research Pittsburgh’s new product Ishin-Den-Shin, you can play Chinese whispers by just touching the next person in the group – that’s probably the crudest way to describe the ‘magical’ technology that Disney has created.

Ishin-Den-Shin, in Japanese, means communicating through an unspoken mutual understanding – much like telepathy. The device consists of a hand-held microphone connected to the sound card of a computer. When a person speaks in to the microphone, the computer records the audio, converts it into a looped recording, which is then converted into a high-voltage, low-current electric signal. This electric energy creates an electrostatic field around the speaker’s body, which, when the speaker touches another person’s ear, creates vibrations in the ear lobe and the person hears an audible signal.

READ MORE: Disney Interactive Cakes With Augmented Reality

The interesting part about Ishin-Den-Shin is that only the person whose ear is touched can hear the message. However, while speaking the message into the microphone, the speaker has to speak the message out loud.

The fact that can come in handy with Chinese Whispers though, is that the electrostatic field that is created in the speaker’s body can be transmitted to another person by body-to-body contact. The signal can be transmitted to multiple people before the message reaches someone’s ear.

However, the person-to-person communication is just a special case of the Ishin-Den-Shin technology. According to the project description by Ivan Pouprev, one of the inventor of Ishin-Den-Shin, after speaking into the microphone, if the speaker gently rubs any object, that object turns into an ad-hoc speaker and plays the recorded message.

The technology at the heart of Ishin-Den-Shin, the bone conduction, is not new.  It is used in secured communication by the police, special forces and even in Google Glass.

What is the use for Ishin-Den-Shin, you may ask? Well, no one is sure of a practical commercial use yet but Disney hopes to use it in Disney Parks to extend their 'magical' storytelling experience.

Think you can come up with some exciting new uses for Ishin-Den-Shin? Write your ideas in the comments section.


You can reach Shruti Sharma here.



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