Chroma

Industrial Design
Problem

How can we translate and communicate important sounds in the environment so that the deaf population can live more safely and independently?

Process

Research, Ideate, Prototype, User Test, Refine, Build, CAD, Render

357,000

deaf people in Canada

Upon consulting members of the Canadian Association of the Deaf and the Paul Menton Centre for Disabilities, I found that current deaf-adapted notification products are expensive, complicated and incompatible with each other.

Personal Home Notification

My idea was to design a wearable notification device that was compatible with existing alarms and can alert users of important sounds inside their home. Existing products were often appliance or gadget-like. I wanted to create something that was more personal and that did not feel like a burden. To develop my ideas I used sketching and low-fidelity models.

User Testing

Due to time restrictions, I was only able to test the models with non-deaf users, however I was able to get design feedback from members of the Canadian Association of the Deaf. My goal for user testing was to determine how users would react to the visual and haptic feedback, as well as their preference on band attachment methods, charger types, sizes and styles. I also wanted to test the user interface, including icons, colours and legibility. Additionally I did some extra testing of possible placement for the notification light within a car, as I wanted to explore the possibility of extending the product to other environment.

Making the Final Model

To create the looks-like model, I made wooden moulds and vacuum formed vivek to create the body of the charger. Then through sanding, sandblasting and spray painting, I was able to obtain the frosted top and the satin finished base. I added infrared remote-controlled RGB LEDs inside to make my model light up. For the band, I modified an existing wearable band and laser cut my own screen.

Adapted for Everyday Life

Chroma is designed to provide users with a greater understanding of their surroundings, providing them with a sense of security and peace of mind. The wearable comes equipped with sound libraries that allow it to identify different everyday sounds through pitch, frequency and amplitude. Users can also add custom sounds of which they would like to be notified by recording it using the device's microphone.

No Installation Required

Currently, users have to hardwire multiple specialized deaf notification devices into their home that all work separately.  Chroma does not require any installation, instead using calibrated audio sensors to detect the sounds of existing notification products, such as doorbells and fire alarms. This allows users to use regular notification systems in their homes instead of specialized deaf ones, saving them time and money.

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