(Phys.org) —Take rings, add a bracelet, and you have a helping mechanism for the hearing-impaired in a novel design. For people who have hearing handicaps and do not know sign language, the ring and bracelet system can help them out, both in communicating what they need to say and in getting messages they can read. First, a Sign Language Ring behaves as a translating device that picks up motion and gestures and translates them into words, delivered through voice by the bracelet. The bracelet can translate spoken words into its readable display panel for the wearer to read. After use, the rings can be set into the bracelet for storage.
The design was inspired by Buddhist prayer beads. The name of the entire system is the Sign Language Ring, which is actually a set of rings and a bracelet. In all, six gesture-detecting finger rings can be snapped and stored on the bracelet. The user can program certain gestures to a specific word if desired. The speaker box and readable display are wrapped around the bracelet. After use, the rings can be set into the bracelet for storage.
Sign Language Ring is a 2013 winner of the red dot award for design concept. The red dot award for design concept is an annual design competition for design concept and prototypes. Winning concepts are exhibited at the red dot design museum in Singapore for at least one year.
This attempt comes at a time when wearable technologies market watchers are recognizing a subset that carries ample opportunities for growth, and that is wearables as disability technologies for the deaf, blind, paralyzed, and elderly. In turn, there is interest in "hear ware," which would include embedding jewelry with technologies that can help those who have hearing difficulties.
In a GigaOm Pro article titled "The wearable computing market: a global analysis by Jody Ranck, the author made note of the 2006 event in London, where the Victoria and Albert Museum hosted an exhibition on hear ware. These were technologies developed in response to a call from the UK Design Council to rethink the hearing aid. The result, said the author, was a fascinating array of wearable technologies outfitted with sensors and hearing devices.
Explore further: Researchers using Kinect to allow deaf people to communicate via computer (w/ Video)