In a nutshell: A Philadelphia-based company has developed a wearable haptic suit designed to let those who are deaf or have hearing loss experience music by turning notes into vibrations. On its website, Not Impossible Labs said they wanted to create a better live music experience for the deaf and hard of hearing but ended up building a better music experience for everyone.

The wearable includes two bands that go around your ankles, two wrist bands, and a backpack with straps that cross over your rib cage. The New York Times said wearing the suit feels like getting "a full-body bear hug from a massage chair."

Founder Mick Ebeling got the idea to experiment with alternative ways to enjoy music after watching a video featuring a deaf DJ that played bass-heavy music through speakers pointing at the ground, consumed by barefoot people on the dance floor.

Ebeling enlisted the help of Daniel Belquer, a composer with a master's degree in theater, to help advance the idea. Others were also brought in on the project, with Belquer eventually settling on a prototype in 2018 that is capable of transmitting up to 24 instruments or vocal elements of a song to various points on the haptic suit. The current version affords a fully customizable fit as well as three different levels of intensity.

Recent technological advancements have helped push the concept forward. Faster and more efficient mobile processors, better battery technology, the emergence of AI, and speedy wireless technology have all contributed to enhancing the haptic suit.

Not Impossible provides the suits as part of a concert-like experience package, which can include up to 90 kits as well as an on-site team to help with setup, fitting, and troubleshooting. There's even a team of "vibro DJs" that assist in customizing vibrations for set lists. Experience pricing is said to start at a few thousand dollars for a handful of suits and can reach six figures for the top-end package.

Notably, Belquer said they make sure that the deaf and hard of hearing never get charged for their experience.

Image credit: Thibault Trillet