Dubai: A student with hearing impairment, during his Dubai university course, has developed a prototype smart pillow that can alert people with hearing impairment about emergencies while they are asleep.
American graduate JayShaud Potter, while pursuing his master’s degree in City Sciences at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) Dubai, linked door bells, smoke alarms and security systems to a SmartPillow that can also alert a person about any emergency calls on the smartphone while he or she is asleep. The phone can be used to provide signals to the pillow, such as signals related to emergency alarms or urgent phone calls from select sources. Transmission between the pillow and the phone or between the pillow and other security systems or devices can use a standard radio frequency wireless protocol.
Potter, 24, had come to Dubai for his master’s degree and is now back in the United States to obtain his MBA degree from RIT in New York. Drawing on his own experience of living with deafness, he used the Internet of Things (IoT) to link alarms with alternative sensory alerts, such as haptic feedback or lights, through SmartPillow.
‘I spent a lot of time worrying’
Born deaf, Potter often struggled with the day-to-day challenges of communication. “When I was younger, I had difficulties with simple things, such as getting up in the morning, because I wasn’t able to hear an alarm like the rest of my family. As I grew up, I spent a lot of time worrying about what might happen in an emergency situation like a fire, or the threat of an intruder,” he said.
Potter added that he had always been passionate about technology and started to explore how it could help in solving some of the challenges that people face with hearing loss. “Dubai is renowned for its innovative approaches to smart technology and it seemed like the perfect place for me to pursue this ambition, and despite having to return home due to the pandemic, my degree programme and the city itself provided a huge inspiration in working towards my goal,” he said.
Speaking about his innovation, Potter said: “The technology is designed to improve the quality of life and promote independent living for people with hearing loss, and to address the challenges I’ve faced and the worries I’ve felt about tackling emergency situations. Through the application, the pillow connects to a user’s phone or tablet to deliver a wake-up prompt. It can also connect to any smart household device, from door bells and car alarms to smoke/carbon detectors and baby monitors, to provide non-audio alerts about unusual activities or emergency situations through alternative techniques such as lights and haptics.”
‘This could be a game changer’
Dr Sanjay Modak, chair, Graduate Programmes and Research Department, RIT Dubai, said: “We know from WHO [World Health Organisation] statistics that there are 300 million-plus deaf people across the world and this concept could be a game-changer in their daily lives. JayShaud has overcome many challenges throughout his studies and his hard work and dedication to the programme have made us very proud.”
Not a one-off project
Potter is now taking forward the innovation while also embarking upon his MBA at RIT in New York. He said: “I’m continuing to test and refine the technology to see how we might address other challenges and to bring more functionality to it. This wasn’t just a one-off project for my degree — it’s an initiative that I intend to pursue, develop further and ultimately hope to mainstream among the wider deaf community.”
However, he has had to postpone his customer research due to COVID-19. Meanwhile, Potter filed a patent application a few months ago. He is now expecting to receive more information from the Patent Office soon.