Flutter dress brings high fashion to the hearing impaired

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flutter dress 1
The hearing impaired are usually saddled with ugly looking hearing aids. Not only do these old-school gadgets fail to do the job a lot of the time, they look bad nearly all of the time. But what are people going to do? It’s not as if there’s a beautiful dress out there that helps people hear at a significantly improved rate. That’d be crazy talk! Right. Right?

Talk crazy no more. The Flutter dress, created by Halley Profita, Nicholas Farrow, and Nikolaus Correll at the University of Colorado, successfully carries form over the function threshold into marital bliss. Flutter gives vibrotactile feedback in the direction of a loud sound or alarm to help those with hearing loss respond more intuitively to their external environment. The dress is constructed using cotton and polyester textiles and features a bevy of embedded microphones running throughout. These mics network together to determine frequencies and their amplitude and which direction they are coming from. Once that is ascertained the dress automatically turns on a series of small vibration motors, that lay in the pictured leaflets, in order to simulate fluttering in the direction of the auditory cue. The wearer instantly knows where to look. Pretty cool.

This dress isn’t available for purchase(yet) but it has already won First Prize for both Best in Show and Most Inclusive and Usable Design at the 2012 International Symposium on Wearable Computer’s Design Exhibition in Newcastle, England. Not bad for a new garment designed by students at the University of Colorado.  Kudos to the designers and, even better, here is hoping this dress gets out there for public consumption. Some people could use it. Read more about Flutter here.