We’re hurtling toward a future of complete internet immersion. Soon, we will be connected to the web not just by one or two devices on our person…
But a whole array.
It’s projected that by 2020 – not even four short years away – the wearables market will be worth $34 billion.
That’s a 142% increase from the roughly $14 billion it’s worth today.
Estimates are that the average consumer will be outfitted with three to eight wearable devices in the coming years.
To be clear, that’s in addition to the standard arsenal of a smartphone, tablet and laptop.
When hearing people think about exciting new technologies for those who are deaf, their minds most likely jump to the latest developments in cochlear implants or hearing aids. Or perhaps they may vaguely recall reading about any number of devices being developed to translate sign language into speech (or speech into ASL, or ASL into text). When hearing people think about deafness in general, they tend to think only in terms of “problems” and “solutions.” Luxury technology now forms a cornerstone of our sleek American culture, yet very few innovations seek to enhance — or even consider — the real diversity of the modern user base.
Chris (“Phoenix”) Robinson, who has severe hearing loss in his right ear and is completely deaf in his left, and Brandon (“Zero”) Chan, who is deaf, began their Twitch.tv channel DeafGamersTV with a seemingly simple goal: break down the barrier between deaf and hearing people in the gaming world.
By MATT SIMON.MATT SIMON June 27, 2016
THE PIZZERIA’S PHONE rings, but it doesn’t make a sound.
Instead, on the shelf below, green lights flash. Waiters scurry by. A few paces away, a cook with a big wooden paddle shoves pizzas into a bulbous oven. The lights flash again, and Melody Stein picks up.
“Hi, this is Melody from Mozzeria,” she says. “OK, sure thing. What would you like to order?”
Melody is deaf. As are the waiters and the cooks. Yet any one of them can communicate with a hearing person over the phone.
Call Mozzeria and the system will route you, the hearing person, to an interpreter at a “video relay service.” The interpreter listens to what you say and signs it to Melody, who’s watching on the restaurant’s iPad. Then the interpreter speaks Melody’s response back to you. Back and forth, until you’ve placed your order or made your reservation. And if you don’t find that to be absolutely marvelous, then, well, I don’t know what to tell you.
People with deafness have plenty of ways to navigate everyday situations as if they had no disability at all, but there are still situations that present dangers unique to them — not being able to hear a smoke alarm or gunshot, for instance. SoundSense is a small wearable device that listens for noises that might require immediate attention and alerts the user when it detects one.
“There’s really been an absence of innovation in technology for disabilities over the last decade or even decades,” said Brian Goral, co-founder and CEO of Furenexo, the company behind SoundSense. We talked a few weeks before today’s launch. “What we’re looking to do is bring technology that’s taken for granted, things like cell phones and driverless cars, and apply that to the disability space.”
This first device is small and simple for a reason — the company is bootstrapped and has to rely on Kickstarter for the funds to make the SoundSense. They’re also looking for grants from non-profit entities and perhaps government funds.
Science, technology, engineering and math will be explored during week long session in July
Deaf and hard-of-hearing girls and boys who are interested in science, technology, engineering and math and entering 7th, 8th or 9th grades in September can attend “TechGirlz” or “TechBoyz” summer camps at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf, July 25 30.
TechBoyz and TechGirlz camps are designed to help students learn about and consider careers in science and technology. Through hands-on activities, campers will explore chemistry, computers, engineering and science; learn to build their own computer; and command a simulated mission to Mars. They also will meet other students with similar interests and participate in social activities.
Camp classes—held in English and in sign language—are certified by the New York State Department of Health and incorporate National Science Education standards.
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