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Silver prize in product design

Author: Alice Turner, Central Saint Martins university in London


In the 60’s, glasses were aids for a disability. Now, glasses have evolved into eyewear, a fashion statement and an extension of your personality. This shift made me question why the main innovation in hearing aid design is developing technology to make them smaller and more hidden. Hiding something away suggests it’s something to be ashamed of. Inspired by the book ‘Design meets Disability’ by Graham Pullin, I have designed a range of ‘hearwear’ products. I wanted to design a hearing aid the user would be proud to wear, a product that is designed to be seen. It is a conceptual piece that questions what a hearing aid could be. ‘Amplify’ is a hearing aid that uses bone conduction technology to provide the user with a comfortable and high quality audio experience. This technology enables the device to decode sound waves and convert them into vibrations that can be received directly by the cochlea so the eardrum is never involved. The product enables Bluetooth connectivity so that it can be paired to any smart device including your car Bluetooth system, smart televisions, phones and speakers. The device can be paired through the connectivity settings in the app where there are many features available such as a help centre for any-time technological support. I believe it is time for a new era of designing for disabilities, one where the products amplify the strength, beauty and individuality of the wearer. I hope that ‘Amplify’ can inspire us to question the future of disability design and radically challenge what currently exists within this space.