Battling to be heard in noisy pubs and clubs could be consigned to the past – thanks to a futuristic new invention by an Edinburgh Napier student.
The ingenious, acoustic ‘social spheres’, designed by Product Design student, Elaine McLuskey, is a fascinating bubble-like structure which enables people to hold an intimate conversation, even above the usual rabble and blaring music of a busy pub.
There are two elements to the giant speech bubble design. Her stationary ‘mod-look’ table top version joins pairs or groups of revelers and would look at home in some of Scotland funkiest clubs and pubs, while the equally intriguing, mobile audio aid – akin to a space helmet – is for people to wear and ‘connect’ with other users.
The designs are one of a host of new products on show this week at the university’s School of Arts & Creative Industries Degree Show.
Elaine (23) from Coatbridge, a Product Design student at Edinburgh Napier University came up with the idea after studying hearing impairments and assistive technologies. She says: “My research found that in some cases a person’s environment can be more disabling than a hearing impairment and so, in some respects, we are all hearing impaired on a daily basis.
“The obvious example is that frustrating situation of trying to catch-up with a friend in a busy bar – you want to hear their news and have a proper chat, but you have to shout over the din of music, chatter and clinking glasses.
“I hope the very noticeable and eccentric appearance starts people talking about hearing impairments. The aim is to challenges and even change attitude towards hearing aids and of course, to help people enjoy a good old natter whilst still enjoying the atmosphere of a teaming pub!”
Elaine’s design is one of the exciting concepts to feature in the university’s School of Arts & Creative Industries Degree Show this week. Other innovative design work showcased in the Degree Show include a sensory table, flat pack lights, a dinosaur which monitors the amount of time children spend on their computer and a bottle which can be split into a beer and wine glass.
Richard Firth, head of Product Design at Edinburgh Napier University said: “What’s really interesting about Elaine’s design is how she has researched and developed the thought provoking concept of a hearing impairment and applied it to a person’s everyday environment. What she has ended up with is a really great product – it looks fantastic, certainly doesn’t try and hide this unspoken issue and the large dome form produces a very efficient acoustic.”
As part of her product research and development, Elaine recognised and involved a wide pool of people, young and old, including the Scottish Association of Sign Language Interpreters and an audiologist at Donaldson's School.
Margaret Kinsman, a qualified teacher of the Deaf and a registered British Sign Language / English interpreter with the Scottish Association of Sign Language Interpreters, said: “Elaine has produced some innovative designs based on the aged old problem faced by us all at some point in our daily life – and one which still harbours negativity – not being able to hear. Long gone are the days where hearing aids were available in just beige and black. They now come in every colour with sparkles, decorated with your favourite football team, creepy insect or stars and stripes.
“British Sign Language is now recognised as a minority language and allows Deaf people to be fully involved in and for society. Elaine has looked to the Deaf for solutions, inclusion rather than exclusion, maximising sharing what we know so we can become a more inclusive society.”
The Degree Show will be showcased at Merchiston Campus, Edinburgh Napier University and runs from 13th May – 23rd May.
For further details on the other work showcased in the Degree Show, please visit www.edinburghnapierdegreeshow.com