My name is Jonah.
I’m 14 years old and live in San Diego California. My favorite hobby is playing guitar. I’ve
been playing for 5 years, and I play everyday. I built my own guitar from a block of wood, designing it and even soldering the electronics
inside. I love music because I feel that you can express
yourself through it, and there is so much freedom to do whatever you want. Music makes me realize how the tiniest of things like choosing one note over another
could change our response to a song. The inspiration for my project came from my
passion for music, and realizing there are people out there who cannot experience it
the way I do. One day when I wanted to play guitar with
my friend in a noisy classroom but we couldn’t hear it, I realized that when I put my teeth
on the guitar it helped me hear it over the noise. After some research I learned that this was bone conduction and from there I learned about
tactile sound, which is the experience of sound through vibrations against the body.
I wanted to explore the idea that tactile sound could help deaf people enjoy music.
The perception of music for people with hearing loss is diminished because they are unable
to process certain frequencies. I developed a tactile sound device, which
I called K-MAD, to try and improve their experience of music.
I found volunteers with hearing loss to try it. First, I tested their ability to recognise
melody, beat and lyrics without the device. Then, after finding the optimal position on
their bodies for each frequency, I repeated the test with my device.
There was a 93.5% improvement from the most responsive group.
“One volunteer said that they could “hear and sense the individual instruments as they
came together and became music.” One of the most meaningful outcomes of the
experiment was watching the subjects’ reactions as they heard music though the K-MAD for the
first time. I’ve learned so much from the project. It’s
exciting to think that this might have an impact on people with hearing loss and in
their ability to appreciate music.