Humans continuously communicate with our bodies, and face masks cover one of the most expressive parts. For some, this is a muffler on strangers, but devastating for people who rely on lip-reading. Several masks exist that have a clear window for precisely this purpose, but they’re specialty and high-demand. [Erin St Blaine] over at Adafruit shows how she makes windowed masks with stuff you may already have in your house. Even if your sewing machine is locked up the local maker-space, you are in luck, because you don’t need a single stitch. For the thread-inclined, it is easy to tweak the recipe.
The part of the mask that touches your face is terry cloth, but any breathable cotton towel should work. There is a PDF in the instructions where you can print templates in four sizes. You will also find a cutout for the plastic window salvaged from your cold soft drink cup. A water bottle should work too. Flexible glue holds the fabric together, but to attach the ear-loops, we fall back on our old friend, the red Swingline. If you don’t have that color and brand, any stapler will do in a pinch. Don’t forget to add some defogger and keep smiling.
Wear your homemade mask proudly and fasten it well, but not too fast.
Continue reading “Read My Lips, Under This No-Sew Mask”
Getting a child’s attention can be difficult at the best of times. Add deafness into the picture, and it’s harder again. [Jake]’s daughter recently had to go without her cochlear implants, raising this issue. Naturally, he whipped up some hardware to solve the problem.
[Jake]’s solution was to devise a vibrating wristband that could be used to get his daughter’s attention. An Adafruit Trinket M0 is used to vibrate a pager motor, using a DRV2605 motor driver. This is paired with a Tile Bluetooth device, allowing the unit to interface with Google Assistant. This allows [Jake] to get his daughter’s attention with a simple voice command to a smartphone, tablet or smart speaker.
While [Jake]’s daughter will regain her cochlear implants soon, they do have limitations as far as hearing distant sounds and working in high-noise environments. It’s likely that this little gadget will prove useful well into the future, and could serve others well, too. Wearable notification devices are growing more popular; this OLED ring is a particularly good example. Video after the break.
Continue reading “Notification Wearable Helps Get Child’s Attention”
If you’ve ever seen an experienced radio operator pull a signal out of the noise, or talked to someone in a crowded noisy restaurant, you know the human brain is excellent at focusing on a particular sound. This is sometimes called the cocktail party effect and if you wear a hearing aid, this doesn’t work as well because the device amplifies everything the same. A German company, Fraunhofer, aims to change that. They’ve demonstrated a hearing aid that uses EEG sensors to determine what you are trying to hear. Then it uses that information to configure beamforming microphone arrays to focus in on the sound you want to hear.
In addition to electronically focusing sound, the device stimulates your brain using transcranial electrostimulation. A low-level electrical signal tied to the audio input directly stimulates the auditory cortex of your brain and reportedly improves intelligibility.
Continue reading “Hearing Aid Reads Your Mind”
A devastating diagnosis for a young child is every parent’s worst nightmare. All too often there’s nothing that can be done, but occasionally there’s a window of opportunity to make things better for the child, even if we can’t offer a cure. In that case even a simple hack, like a rapid response stairwell light to help deal with night-blindness, can make a real difference.
[Becca] isn’t yet a year old, but she and her parents carry a heavy burden. She was born with Usher Syndrome, an extremely rare genetic disease that affects hearing and vision to different degrees. In [Becca]’s case, she was born profoundly deaf and will likely lose her sight by the time she’s 10 or so. Her dad [Jake] realized that the soon-to-be-toddler was at risk due to a dark stairwell and the night-blindness that accompanies Usher, so he came up with a simple tech solution to the problem.
He chose Philips Hue LED light strips to run up the stringer of the stairs controlled by a Raspberry Pi. Originally he planned to use IFTTT for the job but the latency resulted in the light not switching on fast enough. He ended up using a simple PIR motion sensor which the Pi monitors and then uses the Hue API to control the light. This will no doubt give him a platform for future capabilities to help [Becca].
We’ve covered a few builds where parents have hacked solutions for their kids, like this custom media center for the builder’s autistic son. We suspect [Jake] has a few more tricks up his sleeve to help [Becca], and we’re looking forward to seeing how she does.