CLear / Mobile Application & Connected Hearing Aids

Giving users control of what there hear.

Project Length: 5 weeks

Collaborators: Individual Project

Skills: user research, physical & digital prototyping

 

The challenge of this project was to design a connected home device that supports interactions and feedback. The physical device must communicate with a mobile application. My interest in assistive technology led me to this topic. After visiting the Hearing & Speech Center of San Francisco, I was astounded by poor hearing aid technology - even in a technology saturated world. The goal of CLear is to give users control of their hearing aids and allow them to adjust the acoustics of their hearing aids on a micro level.


USER RESEARCH

I talked to five hearing aid users whose hearing aids ranged in quality.  A common frustration among users is hearing aids inability to accommodate for different acoustic environments. People are exposed to radically different sounds when sitting in a living room versus walking down a busy street. Often, hearing aid users only visit a doctor's office a few times a year and only then can their physicians make adjustments to the acoustics of their hearing aids. How might we tighten this feedback loop so users can adjust what they hear depending on their environment?

 
 

SKETCHING & IDEATION

I used sketching to explore form factor, buttons, and elements for feedback and interaction for an improved hearing-aid. I wanted users to be able to change between different settings, get feedback on battery levels and change their hearing aid volumes. 

 
 

PHYSICAL & DIGITAL PROTOTYPING

This independent project exercised my skills in user research, design thinking, physical and digital prototyping. I used SolidWorks and 3D printing technology to design and prototype behind-the-ear hearing aids. Using Sketch and Principle, I created a high fidelity prototype that supports micro-interactions.

 
 

LEARNINGS

+ Current hearing aids on the market do not accommodate for different acoustic environments. CLear allows users to adjust the acoustics of their hearing aid (traffic, echo, voice, background noise, and music) right from their CLear connected app.

+ There is no feedback in hearing aids that notify users of low battery levels. The CLear app shows hearing aid levels right from the home screen.

+ Changing hearing aid batteries is cumbersome. CLear has a portable charging station so CLear users can charge their hearing aids anywhere.