Information technology company Fujitsu Ltd plans to launch a service supporting sports and cultural events using Ontenna, a wearable device worn on the hair to allow users to sense sound with their bodies. The Japanese multinational has also said it will be providing a free trial version of Ontenna for schools for the deaf.
What is Ontenna?
Developed in collaboration with deaf and hearing-impaired communities, Ontenna has been described as “a device that allows the user to experience sounds through the strands of their hair, much like the whiskers of a cat can sense movements in the air.”
“It conveys the characteristics of sounds using vibration and light, and enables deaf people to perceive the rhythms, patterns, and volumes of sounds through their hair,” Fujitsu explained.
Fujitsu began the research and development of Ontenna in 2015, with the aim of delivering sound to the deaf. The company has already conducting trials of the device in a variety of environments including educational settings, sports events, concerts, and tap dance exhibitions.
“Deaf people usually communicate using sign language without using their voices; however, because an Ontenna uses light to visually show that the user’s voice is reaching his or her conversation partner, they could enjoy communication using various voices. When I saw this, I felt that Ontenna would become a new communication tool,” Tatsuya Honda, Ontenna’s creator said.
The free trial of the device will be conducted in 30 schools, with the goal of encouraging the use of this device in day-to-day education for deaf students, the information technology firm said in a press release.
Service supporting sports and cultural events
Fujitsu will also offer sports and culture organizations an event support service using Ontenna from 1 July 2019. The service, costing from 200,000 JPY per day for 30 devices, will include setting up the system environment and operation on the day of the event.
“By delivering specific sounds at sports competitions and events with more dynamic vibration and light, Ontenna can convey the ambiance and a sense of unity among the audience, increasing the value of the experience,” the company said.
“Because Ontenna is not reliant on language, it can also provide a new way of attending events regardless of disability or nationality.”
Company subsidiary Fujitsu Electronics Inc will manufacture the device and plans to begin sales to individual consumers via ecommerce sites in July 2019.
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