Ariel Bleicher relates how he tries on a glove to learn to play a specific tune on the piano. “Caitlyn Seim, a Ph.D student, slips the glove onto my hand. Inside each of the five finger holes she has sewn a flat vibration motor. The five tiny vibrators, which perch atop my digits like gemstones on rings, are wired to a microcontroller on the back of my hand. Seim has programmed it to fire the motors in the same sequence that my fingers would strike keys on a piano. But she doesn’t tell me which tune I’ll be learning. “You’ll just feel a little buzzing,” she says, flipping on the electronics. … Once every minute for the next 2 hours, the motors in the glove vibrate across my fingers. I try to figure out the pattern: buzz…middle finger…buzz…ring fin…buzz…buzz…ger…buzz…uh…buzz…buzz…crap. “IMPOSSIBLE,” I write in my notebook. … I take off the glove. “Start here,” [professor Thad] Starner says, hitting the first note. I lay my fingers on the keys. Middle fingermiddle fingerring finger… “I don’t know,” I say, embarrassed. “Don’t think about it,” Starner says. I start again. Middle…middle…ring…pinky…pinky…ring…middle…pointer….“This is crazy!” I say, still playing. And I don’t stop. I finish the first passage, then play the second, and start into the third. “Now, hold on!” Starner interjects. “Have you played this before?” “Never,” I say. It’s true—I never took piano lessons. … I fumble a few tries—I’m learning, after all—but within minutes, I can play the melody perfectly.”

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