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Problem getting heard at a disco?

Have you ever been into a very noisy environment where even shouting wouldn’t help?

If you are young probably a disco would come to your mind. If you are old may be a party at New Year’s Eve…

It surely happened to me a number of times.  Now I have discovered that there is a solution!

At the University of Colorado, Boulder, researchers have invented a tiny electronic device that can stick to your skin and monitor your body, including picking up what you say. 

When we talk our skin vibrates and by decoding these vibration it is possible to track what you are saying and “voice” it to your partner nearby or at the far end of the Earth (provide she has connectivity).

Now, the device was not designed to help you next time at the disco (this is something I made up although, indeed, it can be used for that), but as a general sensing device that can monitor your body.

The sensors embedded in the device can pick up electrical signals from your heart and from your other muscles, doubling up as a sophisticated heart monitor, since it picks up both sounds (something wrong with the valves?) and electrical signals. It works both as a stethoscope and as an electrocardiograph. They called it “epidermal electronics”.

The possibility to pick up voice in a noisy environment has been considered but not for disco, rather in battlefields… (I prefer my application). It may also help people with speech impairment.

The device prototype has a cable used to provide power and to send signals but in principle the sending can be accomplished wirelessly whilst the power part can be supported by an accumulator that recharges by scavenging energy from the body (temperature, vibration).

It would require quite a bit of engineering but it is in the domain of “technically feasible”.

I cannot say if we are going to see this specific device on our body but I can bet we are going to have some sensors in our wearable or on our skin in the coming decade, and they will be “so normal” that we won’t even notice.

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. He's currently Head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital, co-chair of the Symbiotic Autonomous Systems Initiative of IEEE-FDC. Until Aprile 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the Industry Advisory Board within the Future Directions Committee. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books. He writes a daily blog,  http://sites.ieee.org/futuredirections/category/blog/, with commentary on innovation in various technology and market areas.