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A happy mother and daughter with hearing aids

A gentle “tap” for kids with hearing loss

Getting the attention of children with hearing loss will soon be easy thanks to a bracelet that sends a wireless signal to them from a nearby cell phone.
How can parents of children with hearing loss get their kids’ attention when they aren’t facing them? Even with the best of hearing aid technology, this can be a challenge in certain environments.  

Recently, developers created a device to address this problem: The Tapping Bracelet.

This arm-worn device allows parents to send a gentle vibration to the wrist of a child with hearing loss whenever they want their attention.

The inspiration

The Tapping Bracelet was developed by Seattle-based software developer Kevin Mesiab, who got the idea for the product when he was watching a friend’s daughters at an American Independence Day party.

The girls, who both have hearing loss, weren’t doing anything out of the ordinary – just running and playing. But when it was time to get their attention, Kevin noticed something different.

“Every time their mother wanted to sign with them, she had to get up and chase them down to get their attention,” he said. “I thought, ‘there has to be a better way than this’.”

So Kevin went home and did what he did best: he developed a piece of technology to fix the problem.

How it works

  • Install a simple app on your iPhone or Android.
  • Pair the app with a lightweight bracelet, which connects to the phone using Bluetooth technology.
  •  Press a button on the app when you want to get in touch with the wearer.
  • The app will send a gentle vibration to the bracelet, along with blinking light. The vibration is similar to that of a cell phone.
The bracelet can work from a maximum distance of 15 meters (50 feet), so it’s especially useful for places like parks – or if a child is running or biking on the sidewalk.

“The bracelet really shines when you are in a crowded area, and the person you want to get the attention of is not looking at you,” says Kevin. “The Tapping Bracelet can indicate things like, ‘It's time to come see Mom,’ or, ‘It's time to go!

Other uses

Kevin says that while The Tapping Bracelet was developed with children with hearing loss in mind – it is useful for others as well.

“We've had interest from parents and teachers of children who are autistic or who have ADHD,” he says. “It is also useful for adults who have to take their hearing aids off in the shower or at the pool or beach.”

The bracelet is designed to fit all wrist sizes and is designed to be discreet, so adults as well as children can use it.“It's really up to your imagination how you can use the Tapping Bracelet, and despite my original intent for the hearing impaired, the interest from all sorts of folks with all sorts of uses has really surprised me,” says Kevin.

Kevin gave a prototype of The Tapping Bracelet to the mom who inspired his project, he said her face “just lit up.”

“It's very exciting when you can use technology, especially wearables, to make useful tools for folks who in a lot of cases are really underserved,” he says. “When I see the excitement from people, I know I've got it right.

Get updates on The Tapping Bracelet by signing up at www.tappingbracelet.net.

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