Hackaday Prize Entry: Shakelet

A person who is deaf can’t hear sound, but that doesn’t mean they can’t feel vibrations. For his Hackaday Prize entry, [Alex Hunt] is developing the Shakelet, a vibrating wristband for that notifies hearing impaired people about telephones, doorbells, and other sound alerts.

To tackle the difficulty of discriminating between the different sounds from different sources, [Alex’s] wants to attach little sound sensors directly to the sound emitting devices. The sensors wirelessly communicate with the wristband. If the wristband receives a trigger signal from one of the sensors, it alerts the wearer by vibrating. It also shows which device triggered the alert by flashing an RGB LED in a certain color. A first breadboard prototype of his idea confirmed the feasibility of the concept.

After solving a few minor problems with the sensitivity of the sensors, [Alex] now has a working prototype. The wristband features a pager motor and is controlled by an ATMEGA168. Two NRF24L01+ 2.4 GHz wireless transceiver modules take care of the communication. The sound sensors run on the smaller ATTiny85 and use a piezo disc as microphone. Check out the video below, where Alex demonstrates his build:

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62 thoughts on “Hackaday Prize Entry: Shakelet

    1. That is a great idea, even if you can just split the sounds into a small number of frequency bands and then have a buzzer for each arranged around the bracelet. If the volume for a band goes over a threshold that part of the band vibrates. The only problem is that there is a limit to the resolution for skin to be able to tell the difference between two stimuli. Even then, if it is 2 cm on the wrist that still gives you a workable number of places around the entire circumference of the wrist.

      1. I did some consulting on a project at the Cleveland Clinic several years ago.
        The idea was a grid of electrical stimulation points that would be placed beneath the scalp
        and would turn external stimuli into a complex pattern of electrical stimulation. The stimulator points
        were embedded in small silicone catheter-like tubes to be threaded under the skin. A small cable was to
        run to a device placed in the chest cavity. A device that captured external stimuli was mounted on a cap and
        communicated to the internal device using RF.

        As far as I know it was never fully developed but the testing of the device went well. Both sound and vision
        were converted to patterns and test subjects found the patterns useful.

        Interestingly they used bald men as the test subjects :-) It was easy to attach a grid of sticky electrodes to a bald head versus a head covered with hair.

  1. I like this idea and we’ll definitely add it to my list. At the moment I’m relying in different set vibration patterns to differentiate which seems to work ok. The biggest issue is power drain though. Those wireless transceivers drink a lot of juice (14ma in rx mode)!

    1. Idea; rip apart a cheapo solar light, or add a USB port so you can plug it into a ‘phone charger’ device.
      I’m sure someone will tell you how to put this into sleep mode for 90% of the time also. ;)

      1. Thanks. I am looking at making better use of sleep mode. I have seen examples of people getting it down to 3mA that way but I think it might still be a bit high. I was planning on powering with a watch battery but li-ion might be the way forward.

  2. Morse code? Good, I think.
    If anyone remembers the ‘compass belt’, I think this would interface perfectly with your idea! Great job [Alex Hunt]! I know 2 people who would use this; when I finally start programming micros I will borrow your idea. ;)
    This needn’t be for just the hearing impaired. I want one of these near the doghouse and inside the garage.
    I suppose you could program one to send an alert when sound has stopped for a long time; put one on a 3D printer or CNC, start the machine and press a button on the transmitter.
    *vibrate* *vibrate*=3D Yoda is finished.

    Ssoooo many great entrys this time!

  3. My pebble watch vibrates when various messages come in a quick glance displays a brief summary of the message.

    I’m think a possible solution to this would be IOT device on the door bell etc set to creat a specialized message on the watch

    1. Great idea. A possible extension I have been mulling over is using an esp8266 to pick up the wireless sensors and to link that to an android/ios app. Its’ pretty far down the to do list but I would love to add that. RF range at the moment is an issue. It just about works throughout my little house but it’s not yet ready for mansion dwellers.

  4. I was thinking about my cheap smart watch. It has almost everything in it but it is blue tooth, and cost $12 and up.
    If you could make a bluetooth mesh network you have connection threw out the house. and have it display what has goon off.
    I would love to see this happen. and something like this would be not just great for a handicapped person but for a smart house owner as well.

  5. The Xiaomi Mi Fit is a sub $20 fitness tracker that uses BLE, has multicolor LEDs, and a vibration motor. It lasts 30+ days on a charge and pairs with iPhone and Android devices.

    There’s an app called Tools & Mi Band by Zdeněk Horák on the Google Play Store that completely replaces the default app from Xiaomi. The sole purpose of this App is to relay notifications from your device to the Mi Fit. On a per App Notification basis, it can customize the color of the LEDs and their blink pattern as well as modulate the vibration motor however you like.

    I’ve been using it for a couple weeks now and it’s great. I keep my phone on silent most of the time so when I receive calls or messages my wrist vibrates and a quick glance at my wrist to see the LED color tells me who is reaching out to me.

    1. Even though these days they’re commonplace, and even Deaf people can use the texting feature, not everybody can afford cell phones or get a reliable signal.

  6. Just to let you know, it’s very offense to most hard-of-hearing persons to be called hearing-impaired. It’s like calling a person with African roots the “N word.”

    Also, FTA, “Whilst alternative doorbells and telephones exist for the hard of hearing, they are often expensive (c. $300) and (to be blunt) ugly.” Why are they so expensive? Because they can! Why so ugly? Because aesthetics isn’t a concern as long as it works.

        1. Thanks for sharing that insight into your life Mr Deaf-Negro, because we were only making assumptions and have no real experience with being on the receiving end of discrimination.

      1. I’m honestly confused about this – but open to accepting it if someone can offer a clear explanation. While it may not be proper, “hearing impaired” is linguistically accurate (at least in the english language…look up the definitions of each word individually and you can see how its easy to assume this is the proper phrase) and defiantly isn’t intended as a cultural slur (in the case of this post)…while the “N word” exists solely to demean and belittle people. I’ve participated in several ASL classes in the early 2000s and never came across this…so again, I think this boils down to lack of education and a mis-understanding. Definitely isn’t worth all the name calling and negativity thats going on here. If anyone has sources I can use to look into this further – I’d love to learn more.

        1. Things have changed and progressed a lot since since the early 2000s. Not to belittle your efforts to learn a new language and culture (I think it’s great), but taking a few ASL courses is to the Deaf as learning basic car maintenance is to a mechanic. As the husband of an educator of the Deaf & HH, I hear daily about these issues. And, yes, I have been confronted by parents and those with hearing loss about using “hearing impaired” because, to them, it brings about the stigma of being defective.

      1. Are you likely to have either term used in reference to you? Or are you a naive virgin in that regard? Only a person who is both can compare the two. You trolls sure have poor logic skills.

          1. And you are also an African American? You forgot to make that claim too, did you even read my comment? I guess my point about logic is now well proven. But you could always fib and undermine it, after the fact, but not at the risk of looking like you also lied about the first claim.

            I’ll spell it out for you, only a person who is called A and B can tell you which term A or B is more hurtful to them and to what magnitude. Third parties could only ever know by asking AB victims. This set of facts is what is missing from this dialogue. Science, if you don’t like it WTF are you doing on HAD?

          2. I am a black man. My mother is hearing impaired. I will tell you it is not the same thing. Not by any stretch of the imagination. These other guys are correct. You are the troll Mr Turd.

          3. But you can’t prove any of that, and you are already on the list of turds/trolls. Decent people welcome honest opinions from real people, not from trolls like you.

          4. Not my list, and you were stupid enough to sign up to it. Now people can see who the trolls are on HAD so much more easily, game over.

      2. @PurpleTurdBracket – maybe your message would be a little clearer and better received if you weren’t being a dick to everyone. Also, I’d love to hear more about this science you claim to be practicing…

        1. A handful of social deviants with multiple accounts hardly qualifies as “everyone” if you mean all the people who post comments on HAD. Statistics is a science too.

          1. You can do the leg work using tools of your choosing, but the search terms are very simple. Compare all the people who post on HAD against all the people I interact with in the same time period. There is your list of trolls/turds vs “everyone”.

            Ask the owners of this site to tell you the number of unique IP addresses for the turds and you will get an even smaller list. They can just give you a single number for the total to protect the trolls privacy.

            And now you know what a “Turd Bracket” is. :-)

      3. My wife is an educator of the Deaf/HH. I’m been reamed out by 2 black families with HH kids telling me that they are the same. So, I’ll take their words for it.

    1. I’m a bit lost with this all now (but have enjoyed the comments very much). For the record, I have only ever used the term hard of hearing in my project. Admittedly only by luck – I’m just naturally PC I guess! Best of luck with your list… Sounds like this article has given you a bumper crop of names.

      1. There has been a huge push by the Deaf community to replace “hearing impaired” with “hard of hearing.” The reasons, I’m told, are two-fold. They view the word “impaired” to have the same stigma as “defective.” There’s also the fact that it’s used as a blanket term for people with hearing difficulties and many in the Deaf community don’t want to be lumped in with people who just can’t hear well. Even the organization of the Illinois teachers of the Deaf/HH have had to change their name from ITHI (Illinois Teachers of the Hearing Impaired) to ITDHH (Illinois Teachers of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing).

        Of course, this is coming from my wife, who is a teacher of the Deaf/HH, her students, and parents of said students. So, I could be wrong. But, I doubt it.

  7. I did something similar years ago.
    I made a hearing aid for a deaf dog.
    A microcontroller, a mic, a cellphone vibrator, a rechargeable battery.
    It listened for two tones that were emitted by a whistle..I got a bag of toy
    whistles at Dollar Tree for a buck that had two reeds in them and made two tones.
    When you blew the whistle the vibrator on the dogs collar would alert the dog that
    you wanted his attention…it worked well.

    The controller was mostly in sleep mode and woke up every 3 seconds to listen…so the battery
    lasted for a long time on a charge.

    1. that’s heartwarming

      the whistler could choose which reed was active, i.e. which tone was sounded? or the whistle emitted 2 tones simultaneously, and this method was chosen to remove false positive detections?

    2. was this dog old and slow, or still very active running around? I was thinking perhaps the recharging could happen with a small magnet & spring driving a coil…

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