I think we can all agree that awareness of one's surroundings is pretty crucial to their well-being. The way we gain information about our surroundings is simple: our senses. However, some people lack proficiency of these senses and thus interact with the world in a different way. Our team considered the lifestyle and limitations of a person with hearing impairments; upon doing so, we realized the value of audio in self-orientation and awareness of alerts. In an effort to bring some of this ability to the hearing impaired, we designed a set of glasses which maps auditory stimuli to a visual indicator around the frame.

What it does

These glasses map auditory stimuli light indicators on the frame to alert the wearer of a noise occurring around them. They are intended for people who are deaf or have some form of hearing impairment so that they can be more aware of urgent or threatening sounds.

There are 8 lights in total spaced around the glasses and one sound sensor on each corner of the unit (4 in total). The sound sensors pick up a noise, determine where the sound originated and then signals a specific light to blink once to inform the wearer of a sound as well as the general origin location.

How we built it

This project consists of three main elements: physical design, electronics, and code. Let's take a look at what each of these entailed individually.

We decided to design the glasses in Fusion 360 and 3D print them on an Ultimaker 2+, as this process granted us the most flexibility as well as precision in the final product. We went through a total of two physical prototypes, using the successes and drawbacks of our first version to influence the second and final design.

The electronics for this project are based around the Arduino framework, a user-friendly yet powerful microcontroller. We attached the microcontroller to four sound sensors and eight LEDs; the placement of the sensors is such that we can roughly determine the direction of origin for any significant noise.

As with most hardware/software projects, the electronics and code are deeply intertwined. Our code, in a basic sense, listens for sound intensity values above a certain threshold; depending on which microphone hears it first, we can approximate the origin of that sound.

Lastly, we combine all of these elements in a system that is wearable, takes in sound information, and displays a mostly accurate location on the frame of the glasses.

Challenges we ran into

Most of our team was unfamiliar with Arduino and it was a challenge learning to connect the hardware with the software. We had to implement the skills we were learning as we learned them.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We are very proud of our ability to work separately on different issues and bring all together into one working product.

What we learned

We learned how to approach new problems on programs we never used before as well as how to problem solve and trouble shoot on our design.

What's next for Sound Sensing Glasses

We would love the glasses to be able to be able to determine the environment and adjust its sensitivities automatically. Additionally, the Arduino Uno and sound sensors we used were functional but ultimately not suitable for this project; going forward, we would use a smaller microcontroller and more detailed sound sensors.

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