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Big shout outs to Torben Körschkes (Webdesign), Philipp Gieseler (Development) and Ethan Nakache / Collletttivo (Font: Sprat).

In order to understand and to deal with contemporary societies, different concepts are possible or necessary. Some of the essential elements in Richard Sennett’s work to do so, are related to the notion of Work, Capitalism, City and also to Ritual and Religion as fundamental structures (of Society). A couple of days ago, i met Mr. Sennett* for a coffee and we had a fascinating conversation on material culture, democracy and according “power relations”, also the role of technology was discussed. The central question: What kind of technology do we need? Sennett put it in a nutshell, as you will see in this designabilities video.

* Richard Sennett ist the Centennial Professor of Sociology at the London School of Economics and University Professor oft he Humanities at New York University. Sennett has studied social ties in cities, and the effects of urban living on invividuals in the modern world.

At the Design Research Lab, we develop 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.

The next step of our research will be to prepare the implementation of direct speech input and output.

Team: Tom Bieling, Ulrike Gollner