Edinburgh student invents gizmo to help the deaf feel music

Dan Pillay, a final year Product Design student who has designed a speaker for deaf musicians to create and experience music physically.
Dan Pillay, a final year Product Design student who has designed a speaker for deaf musicians to create and experience music physically.
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A SAVVY student has hit the high notes with a device that helps the hearing impaired to feel music.

Napier University product design fourth year Daniel Pilley has built the canny prototype as part of his degree show exhibit.

It can be built into the body of a guitar amp and see the player stand on top to feel the vibrations of the music.

“All through this project, I’ve had the aim of pushing the sound market in a direction that is a bit more inclusive than it already is,” said Daniel, 22. 
“I want to be able to give people at least the option to be able to enjoy music again – something that they might have thought had previously been out of their reach.”

The device’s spherical shape resembles an upside down speaker and helps transfer vibrations from the amp to the player’s feet.

Many musicians with hearing impairments play bare foot so they can feel the vibrations of their instruments.

Daniel’s device aims to build on that even further by helping the sound travel through the player’s body, helping them connect with the music.

A musician himself, Daniel first picked up the bass trombone in primary school.

He said: “I really wanted to design something with a purpose that could potentially benefit many others experiencing a certain problem or issue.

“Since playing bass trombone and percussion in bands through my primary and secondary school years, I’ve always been surrounded by instruments that have vibration as an integral part for them – there’s no doubt that this project has been influenced by this.”

The idea to create the device was sparked on an Erasmus exchange in Oslo, Norway, last year after listening to a song and being saddened at the thought that not everyone in the world had the option to enjoy it.

Daniel has now – through the support of Edinburgh Napier’s Bright Red Triangle entrepreneurial hub - taken the first tentative steps in creating his own business to develop the device further.

He added: “It’s been a journey to get to this stage with the device. I’ve been thinking intently about where sound can travel to and where it can go.

“I’ve tried prototyping mouthpieces and headpieces as I attempted to develop something that could potentially benefit musicians with hearing impairments.

“I think I’m there now with this specific device but I really need guidance and help from sound and acoustic experts to help take it to the next level. 
It’s by no means a finished product, but it is an idea I’m excited about and keen to take forward.

Daniel’s project along with hundreds of others are on display as part of the Edinburgh Napier Degree Show which is being held at the University’s Merchiston campus from 17-24 May.

Ruth Cochrane, Lecturer in Product Design, said: “Daniel’s device is a great example of how design can be used to develop a new product.”