When it comes to secrets, whispering just got outdated. Disney Research has come up with a microphone, straight out of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, that doesn't actually amplify your ramblings, but instead turns them into a secret signal you can transmit by touch.
The Ishin-Den-Shin installation—named for a Japanese term that means something along the lines of "telepathy" and/or "tacit understanding"—actually takes the sound being spoken into a microphone, and reconfigures it into a high voltage, low current, inaudible signal that's beamed back into the microphone-wielders body. Then, when he or she reaches out to touch another person's ear, that the inaudible signal actually vibrates the listener's earlobe, which then works as a tiny speaker to deliver the message.
Inventor Ivan Poupyrev of Disney Research in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania described it this (awesome) way to New Scientist:
If you remember the beginning of The Hitchhiker's Guide to Galaxy, when the Vogons arrive to blow up the Earth, they turn every object on Earth into a perfect hi-fi PA system that is used to announce that the Earth is going to be destroyed. Ishin-Denshin is something along those lines, minus destruction of the Earth.
Like plenty of other Disney Research projects, Ishin-Den-Shin doesn't exactly have any immediate applications besides "being really cool as part of a thing in Disneyland." But who cares? It's awesome. And hey, if somehow, somebody could turn this tech into earbud-less earbuds, we'd take a finger in the ear to hear the pitch. [Disney Research via New Scientist]