Babelfisk: A Visual Hearing Aid
Maria Popova is a reader and a writer, and writes about what she reads on Brain Pickings (brainpickings.org), which is included in the Library of Congress archive of culturally valuable materials. She has also written for The New York Times, Wired UK, and The Atlantic, among others, and is an MIT Fellow. She is on Twitter @brainpicker.
We've covered various design solutions for the vision-impaired. But what about the hearing-impaired? While the sight is visual in nature and thus more organically linked to design, can the auditory sense be addressed through this inherently visual medium?
Babelfisk, an ingenious concept device by Danish designer Mads Sukhdev Hindhede, aims to do just that. The sleek hearing aid is housed in a pair of glasses, which use a receptive "listening" process to transcribe conversations in the surroundings as text messages displayed in the user's line of sight. Two microphones affixed to the sides of the frames filter speech and embedded translation software display it as text via two projectors. The visualization also allows users to sense where sound is coming from, adding a layer of organic spatial orientation to the listening experience.
While merely a concept, Babelfisk offers an exciting vision for an intelligently designed, synesthetic approach to auditory disability.
Maria Popova is the editor of Brain Pickings, a curated inventory of miscellaneous interestingness. She writes for Wired UK, GOOD Magazine and Huffington Post, and spends a shameful amount of time on Twitter.
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