Introduction

According to the Handbook to service the deaf and hard for hearing by John W. Adams there are two ways deafness can be defined -

Audiological - The audiological definition uses at its base the medical perspective of audition( the act or sense of hearing) and hearing loss.
Cultural - Hearing loss is not so important as a medical condition but rather as helping to define a sociolinguistic group of people sharing a trait who also share a common language and a common culture.

My research will include identification of common problems that people with deafness or hard for hearing face on a daily basis and how can design intervene and help solve some of those issues

Process

Research

The secondary research involved a literary survey about types/degree of deafness, the impact of pre/post lingual deafness on the individual and his/her family. Types of aids and current products available in the market for the HOH/Deaf population.

In the primary research phase a questionnaire was prepared to understand the common problems faced by the user on a daily basis.

The details of primary research can be found in this file.

Broadly there were 2 types of users inferred from the research, those who focused on functionality and the others who focused on the form. These inputs were used to build personas and scenarios.

Personas

DEMOGRAPHIC
Age : 25
Profession : Senior User Experience Designer
Degree of Hearing Loss : Profound
Deaf Since : Birth (Pre-lingual)
Marital Status : Unmarried

PSYCHOGRAPHIC
Personality : Well educated, Hard working, Does not consider himself disabled. Fitness, Cooking, Gadgets are his hobbies

TECHNOGRAPHIC
Tools : Mobile, Tablet, Laptop, Workstation, Smart TV, Fit Band.

DEMOGRAPHIC
Age : 20
Profession : Student
Degree of Hearing Loss : Mild
Deaf Since : 8 year old (Post-lingual)
Marital Status : Unmarried

PSYCHOGRAPHIC
Personality : Extrovert, Talkative, Well read. Swimming, Reading, Photography are some of her interests.

TECHOGRAPHIC
Tools : Mobile, Basic Laptop.

Scenarios

To understand and empathise with users we are designing for, a set of scenarios were created using the insights inferred during the interviews. The personas are taken from the extremes of the hearing loss spectrum to design a universal solution.

Day in the Life of Kabir - Profound Hearing Loss

"It gets difficult to hear the bell ring at times.. not very safe for women like me who stays alone, as I will not realise if a thief is at the door "

- Malan Gurunath Desai, 82

Over the phone participant

"They also just expect me to magically lipread them sideways, across the room, with a sandwich in their mouth "

- Pamela Mang, 51

Online survey participant

"Issues are only there when I am not in the same place as them, when we are in different places, they would have to resort to texting methods "

- Shraddha Agarwal, 19

Online survey participant

Day in the Life of Radhika - Mild Hearing Loss

"It gets difficult to hear the phone ring ..technically it should be attached to the mobile so I can realise when my phone is ringing "

- Malan Gurunath Desai, 82

Over the phone participant

"How about if it looks bit trendy like some earphones/headphones "

- Sakshi Handa, 25

Online survey participant

Opportunity Areas

Functionality

A multipurpose portable device that can be carried everywhere and provide appropriate feedback on occurrence of an events such as ringing alarm, door bell and calling outside their visual area.


Form

A device that is attractive, desirable, stylish and blends into daily lifestyle.

Brief

To identify problems faced by Deaf or Hard of Hearing people on a daily basis and design a solution that improves their quality of life

Concept Explorations

Introducing Project Alpha

Alpha is a multipurpose wearable smart band that assists the hard of hearing and reduces the dependency on others for daily activities. It provides appropriate haptic and visual feedback to the users on occurrence of an event. Feedbacks are customizable by the user as and when required.

The vibration and light patterns differ for each trigger and mimic it thereby making it easier for the user to understand.

The Assist Button

The assist button on the smart band when pressed begins to convert speech input to text. The conversion takes place in the smartphone, using bluetooth the speech input is transmitted to the mobile device where it is converted to text on the Alpha app. The user can choose the language to convert to and the device detects the speech input language automatically.

The Wireless Charger

The induction charger allows you to charge your band wirelessly, just place Alpha on the base and its good to go. The lights indicate the amount of its charged. The charger is magnetic and keeps Alpha intact until explicitly detached from the unit.
With 3000 mAh mammoth of a battery Alpha lasts about 70 days on single charge. So recharge and forget until Alpha is thirsty again.

Door Bell Rings

With Alpha no guests will ever be left un-greeted. When your doorbell rings Alpha knows someone is at the door. It gives you a haptic feedback that micmic knock and the visual represents the door bell switch being pressed.
The colour orange is used in the visual feedback as it represents excitement and warmth, emotions that are associated with having guests over.

Name Call Out

People calling out for you outside your visual area? They don't have to give up and walk up to you. Now anytime anyone takes your name Alpha gives you a slight feedback. The haptic pattern would represent the highs in your name and the visual would be the audio signature of the same.
Have more than one names that people call you with? Just store them on your watch using the Alpha app and you are good to go!

Alarm Ringing

Waking up is a lot easier with Alpha. Long haptic vibrations push you to get out of that bed, and bright yellow visual is used to evoke a sense of energy and optimism required for the day ahead. The light pattern mimic the rise of sun gets you into the right mood. Shake your hand once up to dismiss notification.
The alarm is set on your smart phone, a reoccurring alarm can be saved on the band so it works independent of your mobile device.

Speech to Text

Easy one touch access to speech to text conversation was most important to enhance the experience. Here with a press of the assist button, the Alpha app is triggered on your smartphone and it automatically starts converting the voice input to text in you preferred language.
Alpha also gives a slight haptic feedback and visual feedback letting you know that as successful connection with your smartphone has been established.

On press of Assist button, The Alpha app begins Speech to text conversion. A title can be set if required and the conversion can be archived.

The conversations are archived in a chronological order with the latest conversation on top of the stack.
FAB can also be used to start conversion.

Ideal State - Time

Deca is revolutionary new way to view time. Bound to turn heads and make a statement, any number can be represented with a combination of digits 0 to 9. Alpha has 9 LED that represent digits 1-9 numbered bottom to up. The hours and minutes both can be divided into two digits ones and tens. The hour ones represented by the smaller orange circle the tens with the larger orange. The minute in the same way represented by yellow circles.

11 : 22

10 : 52

05 : 00

Colors

Tools Used