Benevolent Tech: 10 Amazing Gadgets for the Hearing Impaired
To those without a sense of sound, navigating the world can be a great challenge at times. While the world is a very visual place, hearing can be a sense we often take for granted. As we explored 10 great technologies for the blind, we have dug up 10 amazing gadgets for the hearing impaired. From sign language translators to tactile music to closed captioning glasses, these brilliant technologies enrich life for those without a natural sense of sound.
Shake-Up: Music for the Deaf
Though feeling the vibrations of music is not a new concept, designer Pierre-Antoine Bouzard aims to make it easier and more visceral. Shake-up is an MP3 player with a pair of headphones that rumble instead of emitting sound. It also includes mini-speakers for sharing music with the hearing-enabled. Best used with trance or other beat-driven tracks.
SVLT: Sign-Voice Language-Translator
One of several sign-to-voice translators we’ve seen, SVLT communicates both ways. For the deaf, spoken word is translated into text that appears on a disc, worn around the neck. But the real impressive part of this concept is its sign language interpreter, which uses a camera to translate signs into audio. This concept seems like dream tech, but we hope it materializes.
Often times, we’re alerted to danger by alarms, screams and honking horns. The Vibering helps the hearing impaired in these emergencies by vibrating when sharp noises are detected. This concept includes two rings for general alerts, plus a wristwatch that determines the nature of the emergency based on the noise at hand.
SoundAMP for the iPhone
Though it’ll be of no help to those with no hearing at all, SoundAMP may be invaluable for people who could use a little amplification. This $10 iPhone app boosts the volume of any audio coming into the microphone, allowing you to listen to your surroundings through headphones. It can also isolate certain tones to make them quieter or louder, coming in handy for reducing background noise. Hearing aid? There’s an app for that.
It’s not the most elegant solution, but unlike some of the other sign language translators we’ve seen, the HandTalk exists right now. It uses motion sensors inside a glove to translate signs to audio, which is then played through a cell phone or other mobile device. While it may look like a costly solution, the HandTalk is actually fairly inexpensive to produce. Shown off by students at Carnegie Mellon University, we’re still waiting for a marketable product to appear.
Tactile Music for the Deaf
Should the Shake-Up prove a little too intense, the Tactile is a mellower solution for music listening. Instead of sending vibrations directly to the head, this gadget includes a spiky ball that pulsates with the rhythm. And thanks to the simply white tones, it’s no less fashionable than an iPod.
“The Tactile” Gallery
Closed Captioning Glasses
There are lots of possibilities for closed captioning in movie theaters, but prism-fitted eyeglasses are arguably the coolest. Using a wireless transmitter, the glasses sync up with a nearby computer to get the closed captioning data. The words are then shown through a microdisplay attached to the eyeglasses. The technology may even be more advanced than the sci-fi movie you’re watching.
Closed Captioning Glasses Gallery
Solar-Powered Hearing Aids
Hearing aids are notorious for being way too expensive, but if you think it’s bad here, consider the impossibilities for citizens of third-world countries, where even replacement batteries are unaffordable. Howard Weinstein sought to solve that dilemma with SolarAid, a low-cost hearing aid powered by a handheld solar charger. Now all we need is a major corporation to deem third-world investment worthy enough.
Krown Sign Language Translator
Unlike the other sign language interpreters on this list, Krown’s Sign Language Translator works in reverse, listening to your speech and displaying a video of the proper sign language on the screen. It’s not only useful for partners and friends of the hearing impaired, it could very well help a deaf child or someone who recently lost their hearing to learn the language. Think of it as a pocket digital dictionary for the hearing impaired.
Krown SLT Gallery
VPad+ for Video Conferencing
Here’s a powerful tool for the hearing impaired businessman: Viable’s VPad+ is a video conferencing device for sending and receiving video over the Internet. What makes it extra useful for the hearing impaired are the flashing lights that alert a user to an incoming call and the availability of third-party interpreters, should the person on the other end not understand sign language. And at $100 for the basic unit, it’s as affordable as it is accessible.