Feel That Sound – Woojer Vest Edge

Over the past year, I have been exploring my relationship with sound and hearing as part of my Develop Your Creative Practice project kindly supported by the Arts Council England. It has been a wonderful experience and it has encouraged me to consider how our other senses interpret sound. Especially after speaking to Dame Evelyn Glennie who spoke about “Feeling Sound”. This thought sparked me to consider what role vibrations play in a person’s enjoyment of “hearing” music. I wanted to know whether Haptic Technology (a tactile feedback technology that uses the sense of touch by applying forces, vibrations, or motions to the user – think of a vibrating game controller) could be used in live performance to give a physical sensation of sound. I previously obtained a WOOJER Vest Edge as a donation from the brand towards my research. I first contacted Woojer to collaborate as I was interested to see whether this jacket, which provides 360 degrees of sensory immersion by delivering vibrations across the upper half of your body in reaction to music, would enable an audience to hear live music differently. A way that could bridge the gap between silence and stimulation. The product was originally designed as a companion to improve one’s enjoyment of Gaming, Movies, Pre-Recorded Music, and Virtual Reality.

Woojer Vest Edge

At first, I explored the Woojer Vest Edge’s capabilities with the consideration that the audience could wear a vest to enhance their experience of the live performance. However, after observing my target audience, children, in classroom activity and as audience members during the primary school tour with Scottish Opera, I wondered whether this style of audience participation would be too overwhelming. I also considered – how on earth would I find the funding to source 30 jackets so that a full classroom could have the same experience. Deep pockets anyone? Only joking.

This led me to explore my own experiences whilst wearing the jacket. I observed my reactions whilst listening to pre-recorded music played via Bluetooth on my phone and then live music played on an electric keyboard, a silent-function upright piano, and sung by my voice. It was interesting to see which parts of the vest reacted and the intensity of the vibrations in reaction to different sources of music. I was able to find a way to connect the jacket to all these different instruments without wires allowing me to move freely. This got me thinking! What would happen if this jacket could be used onstage by a deaf actor to help improve the connectivity between the artists whilst the music was being performed. I was able to put this Haptic Technology into practice whilst working with Zoë McWhinney, a fantastic actress who happens to be profoundly deaf and the results were very exciting. When Zoe wore the Woojer Vest Edge, she was able to experience in real-time intricate nuances in the music, such as cuckoo calls imitated in the piano accompaniment and respond with an appropriate physical gesture in unison. Although it is slightly bulky to wear, the ability to connect wirelessly without impeding the time lag was quite successful. This excited my director’s brain, and we went on to discover together how we could use this vest as a powerful rehearsal tool. I can’t wait to explore this fascinating technology further and test the limits of its creative potential. Do you know of any companies that use this technology in interesting ways? I am interested to find someone who develops a haptic technology mat, which the children could sit on.

Woojer Vest Edge

If you would like to read more about the product or experience a similar sensation yourself. Here is their website for more information. https://www.woojer.com/pages/vest

I would also like to take a moment to wish my wonderful Mum a very happy Mother’s Day. I am fortunate to have such a caring and thoughtful Mum, who has always supported my brothers and me to pursue our dreams and a life of happiness. It has been a fantastic weekend celebrating with you in Cheshire, especially with the sun shining in full force to ensure bright skies.

43 thoughts on “Feel That Sound – Woojer Vest Edge

    1. I hope so John it would be very useful. People are starting to get more deaf awareness in the UK because the BBC have been creating work for deaf artists and Rose danced in Strictly Come Dancing with massive success.
      Best wishes

  1. Such a lovely photo of you and your mum, Charlotte! Happy Mother’s Day to her! I have never heard of this vest, it sounds like a really brilliant idea, I hope that you can use it to help others. Be well and safe! ❤️🌹🇬🇧

    1. Thank you John, we had a lovely Mother’s Day weekend. The sun was glorious which was great in the UK for March. I hadn’t heard of the vest before my brother would like one for his gaming.
      Best wishes

    1. Thanks Don we had a lovely Mother’s Day weekend, my brothers were on my younger brothers stag do, not long till his wedding, I’ve been practicing a couple of new songs he wants me to sing. The vest was very useful for timing and once we had it Bluetooth it was much better. It needs a wider range of sound but good to have.
      Best wishes

  2. How amazing, the technology with which you have been working! If the similar piece you seek is not presenting itself at the moment, I feel that given a couple more moments, you shall hear of something that suits your purpose!! Well done you. AND happiest of Mother’s Day to your lovely Mother.

    1. Oo I hope you’re right. We had a lovely Mother’s Day weekend, I’m back home now, I’ve been very grateful of this project to keep me busy. Creating your own work is becoming very essential for some singers and other musicians.
      Best wishes

  3. Hi Charlotte. When I was working on my “opera”, at the same time I was thinking about a bracelet, or a T-shirt with sleeves that vibrate or that use a “tickler” with mioelectric current to transmit sounds in vibrations for deaf audiences.
    My research has allowed me to see that there are several universities and research laboratories that are looking around this.

    In fact, the principle is to make printed circuits on fabrics with nanoparticle inks.

    I think it is in this direction that you should orient your research, the world of “connected textiles” or “intelligent textiles”.

    Best wishes to your mother.

    And all the best for you XXX

    1. That would be perfect Pascal connected textiles! I know a textile chemist I will contact him. I actually thought of a mat for the children to sit on but yes a bracelet too. If your research discovers anything that could be useful please let me know. I think you would enjoy the show a lot. You must tell me how your opera is going good luck with it.
      Best wishes

      1. I will resume my research and I will send you what will be interesting for your project.

        My opera is on stand-by, I hope to finish writing for 2023
        The best for you

      2. Merci beaucoup. That would be very useful.
        Keep going with the opera 🙂

    1. Thank you Cindy, we had a lovely weekend, I wanted to leave a comment on your site about the beautiful photographs, I especially enjoyed the rainbow 🌈 disappearing into your garage and the cheeky red bird but askimet won’t let me leave a message.
      Best wishes to you

  4. Amazing! I’ve never heard of it before, it must be such an experience for deaf people to be able to feel the sounds. Brilliant post Charlotte.👏👏👏 and, a lovely photo of you and your mum🥰😘

    1. I think Zoe had a belt or something similar she has used before but she hadn’t seen the vest before and wondered if it would be useful too. It’s a shame it doesn’t have a wider range as it works best in the lower notes, you know the sort of music in games or pop, rap music.

      We had a lovely Mother’s Day the time went too quickly.
      Best wishes to you and Terry,

  5. What a cool vest. It’s not as expensive as I expected, but 30 would still be a heavy price tag even with a bulk order discount. I would think a deaf person would be really sensitive to the Good Vibrations the vest has to offer. You know the Beach Boys “Good Vibrations” I presume? Happy Mothers Day to your mom. BTW You now have a blooming plum tree. It’s attracting a lot of bees and butterflies at the moment. Resa wanted you to have it.

    1. Yay that sounds wonderful George’s family have plum trees that they make a plum brandy with, we gave bottles of it away for our wedding favours, do you have a link to the tree I missed the post sorry Timothy. My Mums white magnolia tree was in full bloom this weekend, absolutely beautiful and the bees were out but not butterflies yet a bit cold in the UK for them. Actually its a bit cold for bees 🐝 too.

      There are people all along the hearing spectrum and so many people with partial hearing loss especially as they age and it is something that people are embarrassed about admitting or just put off getting help with.
      Best wishes

  6. Although I try to keep up with technology, I am not a gamer, so i had not heard of the Woojer Vest Edge. Sounds like a cool product. I love your creative thoughts on how to use it and I hope you get to do more work Zoë or other deaf actor or artist with it. Even with someone with full hearing, I am sure there are exciting ways something like this can be used in music theater, or just plain music experience. It reminds me of the video of the woman talking about experiencing the vibrations of the grand marimba, and instrument that in some ranges a normal hearing person feels as much as hears.
    Slight shift – I hate things like earbuds because in my opinion, you are not hearing music with earbuds, just the sounds! You need to have those vibrations wash over your body to really experience it. OK, rant over 😉

    1. With single sided deafness you only get mono from headphones too, so I always prefer a live concert, show, musical etc. I think that’s why I like singing with piano so much the strings vibrate. Fortunately a loud orchestra give sufficient amplification and sound engineers are great now.

      I’m not a great technical wiz, George got to work straight away trying to find a blue tooth connector so the jacket wasn’t fixed to the piano. He enjoyed experimenting with what sounds got the best effect for Zoe.
      Best wishes

  7. I had never heard of such a vest, but I clearly remember when visiting a childhood friend her grandmother would often tell us to turn the television down. Even though she was profoundly deaf, she could feel the volume through her feet, because of the vibration on the floor boards.

    1. It’s amazing how other parts of your body come more alive, the bones at the back of your head, the vibrations through touch, visuals are so important and subtitles. I hope that they develop this technology fully in the future to give a wider range of sound particularly.
      Best wishes

  8. Charlotte .. you do too much thinking 😂
    Your mind races away with you .. always busy exploring new channels of ideas!
    Lovely to catch up with you again last week xxx

    1. Lovely to catch up with you too Jo, you know me I like to keep busy. My inside cupboard door is covered with post it notes things to do and the other door things completed lol.
      Best wishes

    1. Thank you Derrick, I’ve learnt so much from this project I’m very grateful to ACE.
      Best wishes

  9. Hi Charlotte, I’ve never heard of that, but interesting to learn about. Lovely photo of you and your mum. Happy Mother’s Day to her. 🌸

    1. Thank you Lauren, we had a lovely Mother’s Day weekend. I hope you had a super Mother’s Day too or do you celebrate it on a different day in the States, George’s Country celebrates it on International Women’s Day.
      Best wishes

      1. I’m glad you had a wonderful celebration, Charlotte. Ours is in May each year, and this year, it’s on May 8th. Have a great day. 🌸

    1. Ooo that’s cool I like to be thought of as cutting edge. I will be experimenting further with it to see if the children could put a foot or hand on it, it would give a similar or sufficient sensation.
      Best wishes

    1. Thank you very much, we had a lovely Mother’s Day weekend together.
      Best wishes

    1. Lovely to see you both, just having a break from singing practice this afternoon and then I’ll get back to it. Learning a couple of new songs for Tom’s wedding.
      Best wishes

  10. Amazing technology. And most likely a future powerful tool for musicians and others.
    Happy Mother’s Day to your mother. She raised a very talented daughter.
    (Here is another date)

  11. OMG!!!
    Charlotte, you are a compassionate genius.
    This is one of the most fascinating posts, ever!
    Happy Mothers Day to your Mum!!!!!!!!!

    I’m over on my GLAM blog right now, which is why my pic is different.
    I’m not ready to log out, and then back into Art Gowns, but wanted to pay a visit here.
    I’ve begun drawing the Romanian tribute dress. Of course, I don’t want you to look like a flag. So, my idea is a blue dress adorned with Dog Roses. I looked up the national flower of Romania….it said the Dog Rose.
    Dog roses come in white, pink and red. The red falls to a gentle pink near the centre, but red is the predominant colour.
    The centre is yellow.
    So, a blue dress with Dog Roses embraces the 3 colours of the flag. Please throw this by George. I don’t trust all info I glean online. Anyway, I’ve started the drawing.

    Another thing is that Tim (Off Center Not Even) has a gorgeous Pear Tree.
    I have claimed it for you & your Gowntoons character Lala!
    You may have noticed the trees in the stories are magic. They aid the AGMs and PBH & RR in certain challenges.
    If you …. Lala had one, it would be great for writing the character into more stories.

    IE – I have a Zombie Gowntoon coming up. All the models have been turned into Zombies and Blue Holly will have to save them. She uses the trees to help.
    How do you feel about Lala being a Zombie for an episode?

    Hey, maybe you can comment on my GLAM blog?
    Sending love and cheers!

  12. Charlotte,
    Technology is truly a gift from God. Instilled in humanity is the ability to use its inventiveness to enhance life for those who nature has deprived full capacities. And as a gift from God, my only wish is that technology was only used as though it were.
    A Happy Mum’s Day to your Mum.

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