May 12, 2010

Student Invents Solution For Conversation In Noisy Bars

People who wish to have private chats in noisy bars or clubs are about to have it granted.

A product designed by student Elaine McLuskey known as a "social sphere" enables people to hold a conversation above the background noise.

The 23-year-old came up with the idea after she studied hearing impairments.

The speech bubbles will go on display at Edinburgh Napier University's School of Arts and Creative Industries Degree Show.

McLuskey from Coatbridge came up with two designs for the globes.

One of the designs is a stationary tabletop version, which joins pairs of revelers.

The other is a mobile version that looks like a space helmet for people to wear and "connect" with other users.

McLuskey told BBC, "My research found that in some cases a person's environment can be more disabling than a hearing impairment and so, in some respects, we are all hearing impaired on a daily basis."

"The obvious example is that frustrating situation of trying to catch up with a friend in a busy bar. You want to hear their news and have a proper chat, but you have to shout over the din of music, chatter and clinking glasses."

"I hope the very noticeable and eccentric appearance starts people talking about hearing impairments."

Richard Firth, head of product design at Edinburgh Napier University, told BBC: "What's really interesting about Elaine's design is how she has researched and developed the thought-provoking concept of a hearing impairment and applied it to a person's everyday environment."

Other designs that will be displayed at the show from May 13 to 23 will include a sensory table, flat pack lights, a dinosaur which monitors the amount of time children spend on their computer and a bottle that splits into a beer and wine glass.


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