Opole university graduate develops ‘hearing-aid watch’

Credit: Adobe Stock
Credit: Adobe Stock

A graduate from the Opole University of Technology has developed a special device for transforming sounds into signals perceived by deaf people.

The device developed by Jakub Zelek as part of his biomedical engineering diploma project resembles a wristwatch. However, it does not measure time, but converts selected sounds into vibrations felt by human skin.

'Its task is to stimulate the skin when the sound of an emergency vehicle is recognized. In addition, each sound signal is coupled with a different vibration characteristic. This is a solution for deaf or hard of hearing people who move around the city on foot or drive a car, unaware of anything, and such vehicles usually go quite fast,’ Zelek says. 

He explains that he was inspired to develop the device by his grandfather, who lost his hearing with age, and by the growing number of hearing-impaired and deaf people in the world.

According to Olgierd Kosiba, president of the Association of Translators and Lecturers of Sign Language GEST, representatives of the hearing impaired community have already become interested in the solution.

'It is very pleasing that technological projects dedicated to people who face many barriers in everyday life are being developed more often, he says. ‘Such people undoubtedly include those who have never heard or have lost their hearing. For the majority of society, hearing is the norm, but it is not just about hearing itself, it is also defining the sound and reacting to it properly. If we know the sound, we feel safe. It is completely different when someone has no hearing experience or memories. There is a huge group of people among us who have never heard and who lost her hearing, and yet they live in a world of sounds. A device that recognizes them, defines them and provides information about how they should react to them is a solution for the 21st century.’

Zelek's project received the Engineer 4 Science 2023 award, a competition for the best diploma project at the largest, top technical universities in Poland, organized in cooperation with companies such as Intel and Samsung Electronics. According to the organizers, its main goal is to search for and promote the most talented university graduates, search for the most innovative diploma projects in Poland, and those that are ready for implementation. (PAP)

PAP - Science in Poland, Marek Szczepani

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