"I feel you loud and clear" (1960)

spot illustration from Popular Science, June 1960 article about “feelie communication”, the Air Force project to send messages to pilots through their skin.

“Air Force scientists first tape recorded 39 basic speech sounds, called phoniums, such as “th” and “in”. Each of the 39 produces a different pattern on the tape (pictured above- ed.) Practically any word in English can be duplicated by combining the appropriate phoniums. Next these phonium recordingss were slowed down to 1/8 the original spped so that the human skin could discern the frequency differences among the phoniums when they were played back.

Volunteers then learned the individual phoniums, as transmitted to the skin by the vibrations of a small plate. Once these were learned, the phoniums were combined into words. Finally, compete messages were transmitted. The plate can be placed anywhere on the body.”

What a brilliant, analog Rube Goldberg-esque solution!


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