The Play-A-Grill is an innovative combination of an abritrary fashion object and a MP3 player that is built into a dental retainer and can be controlled with the tongue. (DTI/Photo courtesy of Aisen Caro Chacin)
NEW YORK CITY, N.Y., USA: A young artist has developed a device that combines a digital music player with mouthpiece jewelry known as a grill, usually associated with the hip-hop and rap culture. It is worn like a retainer over the teeth and transmits sound using bone conduction hearing instead of earphones.
The innovative device, called Play-A-Grill, works similarly to a cochlear implant, which is surgically implanted to provide people who are deaf or severely hearing impaired with a sense of sound.
“There is a motor connected to the output socket of the MP3 player that vibrates to the frequency of the sound. When bitten, your teeth oscillate to the same frequency. Because they are embedded in the jaw, close to your ears, the inner ear bones also oscillate, allowing the nerves to process this vibration as sound information,” inventor Aisen Caro Chacin explained.
For the first prototype, Chacin created a mold of her mouth with alginate. She carved a wax model of the grill fitted to her posterior maxillary teeth and then cast it in silver. She next embedded a customary MP3 player with a tactile interface, which can be controlled with the tongue, into the retainer.
The artist presented her grill at the 12th International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression at the end of May in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and received a positive response.
“At the conference many people tried my vibrating motor connected to a headphone jack prototype. Some people were afraid that the vibration would be unbearable, but those who tried it realized that one can hear all audible frequencies perfectly. There is no dentist’s drill vibration to be felt, just sound,” Chacin said.
She added that she had not yet received any offers to market the grill, but she was hoping that a famous rapper or hip-hop artist would find her project appealing.
Aisen Caro Chacin is a 25-year-old Venezuelan artist born in Spain and lives in Brooklyn, New York. She studied sculpture at the University of Houston and is currently enrolled for the master’s program in design and technology at Parsons The New School For Design in New York City.