Vodafone unveils innovative 5G-enabled haptic suits


Vodafone has unveiled innovative 5G-enabled haptic suits, that allow deaf and hard-of-hearing music fans to experience live music like never before.

The wearable tech uses the power of Vodafone’s 5G network to allow music fans to feel the noise and reactions of the crowd around them for the very first time – bringing deaf and hard-of-hearing music fans closer to a live music festival performance than ever before.

Using the latest haptic technology, the suits allow people to feel the music through vibrations. These vibrations are delivered across 24 touchpoints on the wrists, ankles and torso to provide a full multi-sensory experience.

In a world first, Vodafone has adapted these suits to include the atmosphere of the crowd as well as the artist’s performance, using four 5G receptors that capture the crowd noise and feed it back to the suits in real-time. The haptic suits also have adaptable vibration levels, so music fans can tailor the experience to suit their own level of deafness.

Deaf and hard-of-hearing music fans attending festivals or concerts often rely on lip-reading and vibrations from the stage speakers to enjoy performances, which can be difficult if they aren’t able to get close enough to the stage.

Festival goer Kyle Springate from Hackney, who is profoundly deaf, explains: “Normally with a crowd that big and loud, the sound gets drowned out, and if the artist covers their mouth with the microphone you can’t lip read – it can get really difficult. But wearing the suit meant I could keep up with the songs much more easily, and when the crowd was going wild I could feel it all the way up my spine. I felt like Superman!”

Vodafone partnered with Music Not Impossible to develop the suits, combining their haptic technology with Vodafone’s low latency 5G network.

The suits were debuted at Mighty Hoopla Festival in Brockwell Park during Jessie Ware’s spectacular headline set by four deaf friends – Alysha, Coco, Cory and Connor. The friends are huge music fans who have been attending Hoopla together for years.

Speaking on the experience, Alysha Allen, a profoundly deaf Hoopla fan from London, said: “It was just amazing. Getting to wear the suits with all my friends – it was sensory overload, it was incredible.

“We could feel the crowd all around us, which is a totally different experience to only being able to focus on the stage. It let us really feel that connection with the crowd and the festival atmosphere around us.”

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As Official Connectivity Partner, Vodafone will use its connectivity capabilities and cutting-edge technology to deliver an incredible, immersive AR experience for festival goers.

Max Taylor, Vodafone Consumer Director, said: “At Vodafone we are driven by our purpose to use technology and connectivity to improve lives, and this innovative new development allows us to do this for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community.

“Festivals are such a huge part of the British summer, so we’re delighted that we’re able to use the power of our 5G network to make sure these experiences are as accessible by as many people as possible, so everyone can enjoy them to their fullest.”

Jessie Ware said: “When I first heard about this tech I was blown away, and to see the reactions of the fans who have tried them already has been incredible.

“Music is for everyone, and it’s amazing to be able to change the way my deaf and hard-of-hearing fans can experience my shows. I’m really excited by their potential and would love to see these suits available at as many of my performances as possible in the future.”

The activity builds on Vodafone’s role as Official Connectivity Partner of Mighty Hoopla, American Express presents BST Hyde Park and Kendall Calling festivals and its new multi-year partnership with Wimbledon and the AELTC. The range of exciting partnerships sees Vodafone use its technology to enhance and amplify fan experiences across sport and entertainment, whilst unlocking access to some of the summer’s biggest events.