Gadgets17th September 2015

New watch alerts deaf people to danger

New watch launching in Singapore to alert Deaf/HoH people to immeadiate danger

by SL First Tech Team

Recently we’ve seen the launch of several ‘Smartwatches’ – this particular watch is perhaps a little less ‘smart’ in the sense that it doesn’t run apps – but it still has potential to save people’s lives.

It’s called The Bracer and it’s been created by some students and staff at Nanyang Polytechnic in Singapore. They plan to launch their watch this weekend which also marks the 60th anniversary of the Singapore Association for the Deaf.

The watch works by detecting very loud noises, usually over 95 decibels, but can also be adjusted for those who work in noisy environments to only alert at 100 or 115 decibels. This means the watch only triggers for things typically alerting people to dangers like sirens, smoke and fire alarms or car horns. The watch alerts the wearer by vibrating and flashing lights to let them know that something is going on around them that they might have otherwise been unware of.

Another nice departure from the common smartwatches is this devices battery life – while the Apple Watch and other Android Wear watches usually need to be charged every day, this watch only needs to be charged every 4-5 months. This kind of battery life means there’s no excuses for forgetting to charge your device and it should always be ready to go whenever you need it.

The original idea for it came about in 2009 by staff and students in the School of Engineering at Nanyang Polytechnic but back then they planned it as a separate device that would plug into people’s mobile phones and alert people via the phone – but it was further developed in 2010 and has had a watch form since then.

The university was granted a patent for the technology in 2010 and in 2014 they agreed a licensing deal with a local firm called the The GoodWater Company who are now selling the first batch of watches for $200 (£129) each and $50 of each sale is to be donated to the Singapore Association for the Deaf. Currently the device is quite expensive as they’re only making them in very small numbers, but it’s hoped that if it goes into mass production the price could drop significantly. The GoodWater Company is also hoping to sell the watches to those working in construction and other noisy industrial environments where ear guards/blocks are common.

The watch has won the team awards from the Institute of Engineers (Singapore) and also the International Convention for Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology. They tested their product with Deaf people and the feedback they had was generally very positive; testers really like the vibration and light alerts but have requested more scope for adjusting the decibel level that triggers alerts.

It might not be the perfect watch for everyone, but if this has potential to save lives then it’s definitely a good thing in our book!

Article by SL First Tech Team

posted in Technology / Gadgets

17th September 2015