IBM develops mobile system for people with hearing loss
Editor: We're all aware of the frustrations that people with hearing loss
encounter trying to understand announcements in places like airports and
train stations. The folks at IBM have developed a system that addresses that
problem and a lot more! Here's the press release.
Location-specific alerts delivered via SMS
IBM has developed a mobile phone system designed to improve
communications for hearing impaired users when they enter locations such as
railway stations, airports and workplaces.
The Location Aware Messaging for Accessibility (Lama) system was
developed by students involved in a research project at IBM's software
laboratory at Hursley House in Hampshire.
Lama can send a wide range of location-specific information to the user's
mobile phones in a range of requested delivery formats. These are usually
text messages, but an image or tactile alert such as handset vibration can
also be sent.
As the user enters a location running Lama, such as a railway station or
airport, their mobile phone actively recognises the system and provides a
list of messaging services on offer.
Following service registration, users can be alerted automatically to
public address announcements, which are immediately converted into their
"I am very excited about the potential of this development as it could
reduce the sense of isolation experienced by hearing impaired people," said
David Livermore, chairman of Deafness Research UK.
"Specifically, it offers the opportunity for hearing impaired people to
be aware of urgent announcements whether they be on public transport or in
Lama makes use of Bluetooth and GPRS technologies, and can be adapted to
work with Wi-Fi and GSM networks.
System installation simply requires the location to integrate Lama
hardware and software into their existing IT and communications
This enables Lama-enabled mobile phones to interact with the system to
access information and notifications specific to that location.
Lama is due to be piloted across the UK in the coming months. When fully
implemented it is anticipated that users will be able easily to download
Lama client software to their mobile phone from a website.