The Air Talk-Starter can shoot an air vortex ring towards the head of a person being talked to in order to indicate the direction the communication is coming from, thereby signaling to the partner the beginning of conversation.
Team member Shitara, who is Deaf, thought that when a Deaf or hard-of-hearing person talks to someone without hearing loss and vice versa, it is confusing and may be difficult to resolve misunderstandings. In addition, he felt that vibrations from smartphones and smartwatches are unsuitable for talking to the Deaf or hard-of-hearing because they force him to pay attention to the device.
Air vortex rings are doughnut-shaped vortices ejected from an air cannon that can travel long distances across the room and exert a soft and noticeable force on human skin and hair. The system we have developed is simple and is actuated by five loudspeakers attached to the air cannon housing, which forces the air inside of it outwards to generate air vortex rings. we found that when the air vortex ring contacts a human hair it vibrates as an oscillating element, resulting in a higher haptic recognition accuracy than when the ring contacts bare skin. This phenomenon can remotely notify a deaf or hard-of-hearing person from a distance of 1 to 2 meters. We are currently working on improvements to extend this range.