This Microphone Transfers Sound Through Touch

Andrew Lampard
This Could Be Big
This Microphone Transfers Sound Through Touch

The telephone game is played all over the world (it's known as Chinese whispers beyond North America). It involves a group sitting in a circle and starts with someone whispering a message into their neighbor's ear.

The message is then passed around the group until it makes it back to its originator; if the message is still intact, the group wins.

I can't remember ever taking part in a telephone game where the message wasn't altered in some way. But had I had an "Inshin-Den-Shin" microphone, pictured above, there wouldn't have been a contest.

Named after a Japanese expression for non-verbal communication, the microphone converts a spoken phrase into an inaudible signal that is relayed through the speaker’s body. When the speaker touches another person’s earlobe, that second person will hear what the speaker said into the microphone.

So whisper, touch, transmit. It's the telephone game, perfected.

The microphone was created by the Disney Research Lab in Pittsburgh. The lab conducts secret R&D for Disney, in essence discovering the magic that goes into the “Magic Kingdom.” (ABC News is owned by The Walt Disney Company).

I recently toured the lab for this innovation blog, and was shown several cool gadgets and technology. Some of them had evident “real-world” applications; others were just really cool. Disney wouldn't tell me what the "Inshin-Den-Shin" is meant to do outside their lab, but I know that it could have an immediate benefit for telephone game-players. That, or subvert the game's message that human communication is fraught.

Watch the video above to see how exactly the “Inshin-Den-Shin” microphone works.