Market & User Research
In order to design for a specific group of people - in this case, the blind and visually impaired - intensive user & market research has to be conducted. This ensures that the design and function of said device, will actually benefit and address the needs of the intended.
To get as much information as possible about the blind and visually impaired, Whitney Hill called upon her resources at Chicago's Blind Service Association and previous knowledge obtained from the Royal National Institute of Blind People in London. In addition, research and device testing of pre-existing aids for the blind was also conducted to better understand not only what was already available on the market, but what was missing.
Special attention was made to unique cases, like Ben Underwood, a young man who had retinal cancer at a young age who eventually went blind by the age of three. Ben discovered that by using echolocation, a series of echoes (sound waves) produced by frequent clicks of the tongue, he could replicate owls tracking mechanism and determine the location and size of nearby objects. It only seemed fitting to use this technique and concept for the OWL design.
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OWL comes in three designs - necklace pendant, ring and bracelet. By fashioning the devices after jewelry, the wearer is given an aesthetic variety that borders between discreet and chic. Each device duels as a wireless transmitter that can be pre-programmed to sync with the matching receivers (not shown) to output either light or sound when the wearer is nearby.
OWL is patented and copyrighted ©