Hearwear: TableTalk Concept for IDEO
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Hearing aid exploration
In response to Hearwear, a brief by the Royal National Institute for Deaf People and Blueprint magazine, a team of six IDEO designers set out to answer the question, “Could a hearing aid be a technological product that is desirable to people who are not hard of hearing?” After a number of conversations with hearing impaired people, and an inspiring visit to a noisy pub, the IDEO team designed TableTalk: a suite of bar furniture and disposable earpieces that allow groups of people with unimpaired and impaired hearing to converse easily despite background noise.
Built into the TableTalk’s table surface is a microphone system linked to a conductive copper inlay, creating a standard induction loop system that sends signals to the TableTalk earbuds. Because hearing aid wearers are already equipped to use TableTalk furniture, the advantage is shifted to the hearing impaired. TableTalk places the hearing and hearing impaired on a level playing field by enhancing everyone’s social experience, thereby lessening the stigma of hearing impairment. Also included in the project was specially designed TableTalk signage that would allow businesses to advertise TableTalk as being on-site.
Watch a video about the project here.
Project date: 2005