by Tom Bieling (Design Research Lab, Berlin); Ulrike Gollner (Design Research Lab, Berlin)
Marginalized communities like deaf-blind people are excluded from several forms of communication. The Design Research Lab in Berlin, has been developing the Mobile Lorm Glove, a mobile communication and translation device for the deaf-blind. The prototype translates the hand-touch alphabet “Lorm”, a common form of communication used by people with both hearing and vision impairment, into text and vice versa.
Textile pressure sensors located on the palm of the glove enable the deafblind user to “lorm” on his or her own hand to compose text messages. A Bluetooth® connection transmits the data from the glove to the user’s handheld device. It is then forwarded to the receiver’s handheld device in the form of an SMS. If the wearer of the Mobile Lorm Glove receives a text message, the message will be forwarded via Bluetooth® from his or her handheld device to the glove. Initiated by small vibration motors located on the back of the glove, tactile feedback patterns allow the wearer to perceive incoming messages.
The Mobile Lorm Glove provides particularly two innovative ways of communication for deafblind people: it supports mobile communication over distance, e.g. text message, chat or e-mail, and it enables parallel one-to-many communication, which is especially helpful in school and other learning contexts. With this newly developed technology and interaction, it will soon become possible to also “feel” e-Books or audiobooks. The Mobile Lorm Glove functions as a simultaneous translator and makes communicating with others without knowledge of “Lorm” possible. As a
result, it empowers deaf-blind people to engage with a wider social world and further enhances their independence.