Tactile audio is an emerging technology used mainly in music production and hearing aid applications.

It provides a new information channel for musicians, composers, and listeners, allowing for a more immersive listening experience.

Tactile audio, also known as haptic or touch sound, refers to using touch or other physical sensations to convey sound or music. It uses haptic technology to create physical sensations that can be felt through touch.

For example, a haptic audio system might use vibrations or changes in pressure to create the sensation of sound waves in the body.

Tactile audio can enhance the listening experience for people with hearing impairments or add a layer of immersion to virtual reality or other interactive media.

In this article, I will explain tactile audio, its current applications, and potential future applications.

Tactile Audio in Music Production

Tactile Audio in Music Production
Akai MPC Studio 2 (Source: Akai Pro)

Tactile audio is a boon for music makers. Here the composer uses their hands to create sounds. These sounds are then recorded using microphones and software programs.

With it, musicians are now finding new ways to create more interesting sounds than traditional methods, and audiences are also enjoying the experience.

Tactile Audio has been used for a long time, but it only recently became popular.

A tactile music artist creates sound by moving their fingers across the surface of a sensor that detects the motion velocity, distance, and impact area.

The musician then records these sounds using a microphone. Once the recording is complete, the musician manipulates the sounds using software programs to create a unique piece of music.

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It is often used by musicians who want to express themselves musically without relying on traditional instruments.

Artists choose to compose music using this method because it allows them to capture realistic digital sounds and gives them greater control over the final product.

The Moog Synthesizer was one of the early inventions that integrated tactile audio.

It was designed to create sound effects using a series of touch pads.

The touch pads were placed around the perimeter of the device and would activate different sounds depending on how one touched them.

There have been many inventions over time that have tried to replicate the concept.

Most of these devices use either ultrasonic waves, infrared beams, or vibrations to detect where a person touches the surface of the device.

When one touches the device, it detects the change in pressure and activates a specific sound.

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Tactile Audio in Hearing Aid

tactile audio technology in hearing aid
Haptic hearing-impaired headphones (Source: Dezeen)

Tactile Audio Technology (TAT), also known as haptic or touch sound, uses vibrations, pressure, and other sensations to produce auditory information.

The idea behind tactile audio in a hearing aid is that if you touch something vibrating, those vibrations will give a sense of hearing the music.

So if a device is vibrating based on a piece of music, then the person touching the vibrating transducer/device can get a sense of listening to music.

The tactile audio hearing device was created in the 1960s by composer Morton Subotnick to make music more accessible to blind or visually impaired people.

Final Thoughts – How does the future of tactile audio look like?

Tactile audio technology has been used in various applications to provide feedback for musicians and information about the surroundings of people with hearing impairments.

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It is a continuously growing technology, and much research is happening around it to make music or sound more accessible.

It is difficult to predict the exact future of tactile audio, as it depends on several factors, such as technological advancements, consumer demand, and the creative uses that are developed for it.

However, haptic technology will likely improve and become more accessible, which could lead it to be integrated into various applications.

One possible use for tactile audio in the future could be in developing haptic interfaces for virtual and augmented reality systems.

These interfaces could allow users to feel physical sensations corresponding to events or actions in the virtual environment.

For example, a haptic interface could create the sensation of touch or impact when interacting with virtual objects or convey movement or acceleration when flying or driving in a virtual world.

Another potential use for tactile audio could be in the field of education, where it could be used to help students learn and understand complex concepts through hands-on experiences.

For example, a haptic audio system might be used to teach students about the properties of sound waves or to help them learn about the anatomy of the human body by allowing them to touch and explore virtual representations of internal organs.

Overall, the future of tactile audio is likely to be shaped by the creativity and ingenuity of developers and users, and it has the potential to revolutionize the way we experience sound and interact with virtual environments.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why do we need tactile audio?

There are many reasons why we need tactile audio. One of them is that it helps blind or visually impaired people. Another reason is that it makes music more accessible to everyone. If you have ever been to a concert where someone is playing piano, you may not know what they are playing unless you can hear the notes. Tactile audio would allow you to feel the vibrations of the keys and follow along.

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Is tactile audio technology safe?

Yes! Tactile audio technology is safe. Devices integrated with tactile audio are secure because they use vibrating transducers and Infra-RedInfra-Red (IR) light to operate. These are not harmful to humans as they are non-invasive, and humans are readily exposed to them.

Is tactile audio technology lawfully permitted?

Yes! There are no laws that say you cannot use tactile audio technology. However, selling products that falsely claim to have tactile audio technology integrated into them is illegal under consumer acts.

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