The Ontenna hair clip enables wearers to feel sound

26.05.2017 Design : Technology : Product Design
Ontenna, Tokyo

Tokyo – Ontenna is designed to enable deaf and hard of hearing people to experience sound through light and vibrations.

Developed by personal computer equipment company Fujitsu, the wearable headpiece uses a microphone to turn sound into haptic feedback. Rather than hearing sounds, users effectively learn a new sensory language that comprises different combinations of rhythmic pulses that reflect certain sounds, enabling them to experience the auditory world.

Early prototype versions of the device were attached to volunteers’ hands or clothes, but wearers reportedly found it difficult to accurately decipher the vibrations.

The idea was initially conceived as part of a university project by Tatsuya Honda, now a user interface designer at Fujitsu. According to Honda, wearers can gauge how far away a certain sound is based on the intensity of the vibrations and identify where the sound is coming from if they wear one device on the left side of their head and one on the right.

The Big Picture

  • In line with our macrotrend The Optimised Self, designers are using technology to shape how consumers perceive and interact with the world around them
  • Consumers are looking for brands that care about communities and brands are developing products inspired by the needs of particular communities that can be adapted to suit all consumers. For more, read our Access for All microtrend