Chicago's Lyric Opera is introducing state-of-the-art technology that will enable patrons who are deaf or hard of hearing to experience the power of the music in a new way.
Lyric will be the first opera company ever to offer the SoundShirt — which audience members can wear to literally feel the music — for live performances.
Lyric hopes the technology will make the theater more accessible to fans who are deaf and hard of hearing.
Microphones are placed over the orchestra and on the stage, recording sounds in real time that are sent to a computer where software translates it to digital data. It's then transported to trigger 16 motors scattered around the shirt, creating a vibration in the front of your shoulders, forearms and upper and lower back.
The force of the music and voices matches the intensity of the vibrations delivered through the shirt, so faint singing creates light tapping near the clavicle while the bass drum is a strong, rhythmic pounding on the lower back.