Amelia Marzec’s Re-Wired project is a fantastic example of an empowered patient diving into DIY medical technology. Her device turns “ambient sounds into haptic signals using bone conduction technology.”
After having a tumor disable her hearing in one ear, she looked at options on how to restore hearing. The standard method is to have an implantable device screwed into your skull that sends sound waves into the bone. Deciding that was a bit much, she went about exploring alternatives and 2 months after losing hearing she made the Re-Wired Helmet, a fine example of DIY medical technology with all the right notes: simple, inventive, empowering.
I decided to adapt bone conduction technology into a helmet, in order to share my emerging haptic perception of sound without the necessity of surgery. Re-wired consists of a helmet that leaves the wearer free to roam their environment and experience a physical sensitivity to sound. The helmet contains small, sensitive microphones, signal amplifiers, vibration components, and effects circuits. It adapts to any head shape. Dials to adjust the sound and volume are mounted on the side.
The project is participatory. I invite volunteers to explore the sounds of their environment through their skull, bypassing their ears. Hearing protection gear is provided to isolate the participant’s haptic perception.
The vibration elements sit against the forehead, mounted to an adjustable band inside the helmet that’s suspended away from its outer shell. All of the components can fit between the shell and the suspended bands.
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