We know very well that a large majority of deaf people use hearing aids or cochlear implants to amplify and hear the sounds around them. A scientist is working on another form of aid that will help deaf people convert sound to electrical signals which are sent to the brain directly – no need for an aid or implant!
This new aid, called VEST (Versatile Extra-Sensory Transducer) is an actual vest that a deaf person will wear under their shirt. Their (Android) smart phone will capture the sounds around them and send them to vibration motors on the vest real time, which will be converted to touch in the form of vibrations. These vibrations, or electric signals, are then sent to the brain directly where they are interpreted into information. With this vest, deaf people will be able to do several things that are typically either not possible for them or very difficult, like listening to traffic sounds in their surroundings, music, etc.
This device would cost approximately $2,000 – an eighth of what a cochlear implant surgery costs, and since this is something one just wears (and is hidden under their clothing), there is no need for a medical surgery.
The inventor of VEST, David Eagleman, also plans to send weather, stock market information, and tweets directly to this vest in the future. As an example, if the wearer of VEST were in a room where people were tweeting with a certain hashtag, they would get all those tweets directly into their brain!
Data around them will get directly streamed to their brain!
This vest weighs around 10 lbs but future enhancements include shedding that extra weight off.
Eagleman will be posting regular VEST updates on his website here
Watch this Kickstarter video (that was successfully funded just yesterday to learn more about VEST and what all it can do.
Watch this three minute video to understand the bigger theoretical concepts behind VEST.
And here’s a very amazing presentation by David Eagleman at Being Human last year. It’s 22 minutes long but totally worth watching!
Source: Medical Daily, Kickstarter, Eagleman Laboratory