Press Release | 08 Jun 2022

Vodafone 5G gives deaf and hard-of-hearing fans a first-of-its-kind live music experience

The wearable tech lets fans feel the music through vibrations, delivered by 24 touch-points around the suit, to provide a multi-sensory experience.

  • Vodafone unveils 5G-enabled haptic suits at Mighty Hoopla Festival, allowing deaf and hard-of-hearing fans to experience live music like never before.
  • The wearable tech lets fans feel the music through vibrations, delivered by 24 touch-points around the suit, to provide a multi-sensory experience.
  • The use of Vodafone’s 5G network allows the suits to capture the sound of the crowd live, and transmits the sensation to the wearer in real time – a world-first innovation.
  • The suits were worn during Jessie Ware’s spectacular set on Saturday 4 June at Mighty Hoopla Festival in Brockwell Park, London, by deaf music fan Alysha Allen and her three friends from London.

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.

When the crowd was going wild I could feel it all the way up my spine. I felt like Superman!

(Kyle Springate)

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.

Alysha Allen (middle) and Cory Labrosse (left), enjoying the Mighty Hoopla festival using the Vodafone 5G haptic suits
Alysha Allen (middle) and Cory Labrosse (left), enjoying the Mighty Hoopla festival using the Vodafone 5G haptic suits.

“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.”

Vodafone announces return to music with new UK festival sponsorship

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.”

Singer-songwriter Jessie Ware performed at the 2022 Mighty Hoopla festival.

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.

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– ENDS –

About UNIT9

Making brands famous since ‘97, UNIT9 is a global innovation partner with the sole mission of creating astounding experiences at the intersection of world-class creativity, cutting-edge technology and impeccable craftsmanship. Built from a multidisciplinary team of visionaries, they are experts in experience and skilled across Artificial Intelligence, Virtual and Hybrid experiences, Augmented Reality, Film and Animation, Product Design, Experiential, Emerging Technologies, Digital, Gaming and Experience Design. It’s why Ad Age crowned them Production Company of the Year in 2019 and Campaign anointed them Tech Company of the Year two years running in 2020 and 2021. From entering the Metaverse with a first-of-its-kind Decentraland experience for Fidelity, to deepfaking Lionel Messi and flinging open The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s virtual doors, UNIT9 are forever learning, testing, building and making; and have been at the bleeding-edge of innovation for over two decades.

About Vodafone UK

Vodafone UK is a technology communications company that connects people, businesses and devices to help our customers benefit from digital innovation. Our services span mobile, fixed-line connections, home and office broadband, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

We have a strong track record as a tech pioneer, making the UK’s first mobile phone call, sending the first text message, and making the UK’s first live holographic call using 5G in 2018. We were also the first to start carrying live 5G traffic from a site in Salford, Greater Manchester. As of March 2022, we have 5G in 380 locations across Europe – 141 in the UK and 239 across Germany, Spain, Italy and Ireland. Our 4G network coverage currently reaches over 99% of the UK population.

Today, Vodafone serves more than 18 million mobile and fixed-line customers in the UK. To help deliver Gigabit UK, our full-fibre broadband roll-out programme now covers 26 UK towns and cities, rising to 35 over the coming months, through partnerships with CityFibre and Openreach. Our full fibre services are now available to more than eight million homes across the UK.

Sustainability is also at the heart of what we do: as of 1 July 2021, 100% of the grid electricity we use in the UK is certified to be from renewable sources.

For more information about Vodafone UK please visit: www.vodafone.co.uk.

Vodafone UK Media Relations

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Website: https://newscentre.vodafone.co.uk

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