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Sirens for the Deaf

A safety measure to enable the hearing impaired to be alerted by common alarm sounds
 
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One of the major safety issues confronting people with hearing impairments is their inability to hear warning alarms. Though in some cases sirens come accompanied with flashing lights (police, ambulances, fire alarms in some buildings), most don’t. Such sound-only alarms range from car horns and ship blares, to train whistles and bicycle bells. And to this we might also want to add gun fire, and the screech of car wheels as its driver slams on the breaks. My proposal is to make a small device that might look like, or be part of, a hearing aid. This device will contain a sound library of perhaps a dozen classes of alarms, each with perhaps a few hundred variants. The device will continuously check to see if any of those sounds matches what is coming in through its microphone. If it recognizes a match it might give the wearer a mild electric shock and/or flash some bright LEDs. The pattern of either could be pre-programmed so that the user will immediately know which alarm went off, and so if to run or duck and cover. Furthermore, the intensity of the shock/flashes could be proportional to the volume of the alarm sound. This way the wearer can distinguish a wailing police siren two blocks away from one that’s right behind him. And whether the police car is approaching or driving away. For serious travelers, it might be handy to have a version of the device with a replicable sound library memory chip, since many countries have their own versions of police/ambulance sirens, as well as alarms that we, thankfully, don’t hear too often in the West (e.g. air raid sirens and incoming mortar shell explosions).

Note on prior art: This idea is similar to Sensound. However, this idea adds two critical novelties: (1) that is can distinguish among a library of sounds, and (2) you don’t have to carry a ball everywhere you go.

imho, Jun 01 2009

Sensound® Sensound_ae
[imho, Jun 01 2009]

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       Could a flash cellphone and the appropriate programming do this ?
wjt, Jun 01 2009
  

       I believe this device is already baked: many deaf carry hearing dogs. Although uncomfortable in the ear, such dogs do have sufficient intelligence to alert the wearer to potential danger.
oniony, Jun 01 2009
  

       // such dogs do have sufficient intelligence to alert the wearer to potential danger.//
By barking?
coprocephalous, Jun 01 2009
  

       I pull over to the side for paragraph breaks.
normzone, Jun 01 2009
  

       [norrm] that made me laugh very, very hard. Thanks for the Monday mania.
blissmiss, Jun 01 2009
  

       Just doing my job, glad to be of help.
normzone, Jun 01 2009
  
      
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