The next time you want to share a secret message with your friend, Disney recommends you just shove your finger in their ear. Ok, technically the company's imagineers would have you touch your friend's tragus — that little rear-facing flap at the front of your ear. Disney is calling the technique "Inshin-Den-Shin" which is Japanese for "unspoken mutual understanding." We're calling it the Steamboat Willie. [Editor's Note: and by "we," Colin means just him.]
Of course, just touching your friend's ear isn't enough to transmit a message. You'll also need a specially-designed microphone and a bit of Disney magic (which in this case means proprietary software). Holding the microphone, you can record a message that is then sent to Disney's software. There, the recording is looped and sent back to the microphone as a high-voltage, low-current signal. Your body then becomes a conductor for the recorded signal, and touching someone on the ear creates a natural amplifier, allowing the signal to be heard. You can even link a number of people together and allow the signal to pass through each of them before being delivered to its final recipient.
While the technology is currently part of an art installation, Disney could certainly find a commercial application for the concept. It could very well be that passing notes in the classroom of tomorrow will be as easy as reaching over and giving your friend a Steamboat Willie. Check out what we mean in the video below.