Maker Faire + Testing with Marcus

A series of insightful user interviews, additions to our team, and strides in product development have kept us busy since our last update.  Below are some of the activities that have happened the past couple weeks.   

Last weekend the team visited Maker Faire in San Mateo to share our latest functional prototype and working app with sound data and location logging capabilities.  With three new team members with electrical engineering expertise, we were able to accelerate our progress towards smaller packaging and added functionality including pushing data to the cloud and real-time sound feedback with the wrist-worn display.  

Level the Noise prototypes on display at Maker Faire 2017

Level the Noise prototypes on display at Maker Faire 2017

Screenshots from the Level app

Screenshots from the Level app

We met several parents with personal experiences of autism in their families and received considered feedback for new use cases including other demographics.

Zach sharing the features of the wearable with the Maker Faire community

Zach sharing the features of the wearable with the Maker Faire community

The past three weeks we've also been working closely with Marcus and John to get their input on the functionality, form factor, and user interface of the device.  We recently upgraded the device to log the location of sound events and pair with the app.   We were able to get feedback from Marcus how he used the information and his interactions with the user interface.

Marcus and his father

Marcus and his father

Marcus testing the app and wearable for the past week

Marcus testing the app and wearable for the past week

In the coming two weeks we'll be refining the app with the feedback we received from Marcus and John while continuing to minimize the package of the wearable device.  We're also exploring opportunities to adapt our design for use with young children to aid in their development of strategies for managing their sound environments.  Keep on eye out for an updated video from us in the coming week where we'll share our latest vision of how we plan to help manage the soundscape of those with hypersensitivity to sound.

The Tool

We are building a wearable sound tracker that can help those hypersensitive to sound build real-time awareness of personal noise thresholds so they can plan a healthy soundscape. The vision for our form factor is a bracelet microphone + app (think Fitbit). We are currently in active prototyping, designing a tool that can make a difference, especially in the lives of those with autism. 

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We are currently seeking both funding for the creation of our tool and feedback from users. Please join us on this mission to empower those pushed to the margins because of sound sensitivity!

The Need

Overwhelming exposure to sounds can often lead to pain, meltdown, and embarrassing social situations for those with sensitivity. We've spent the last 6 months researching the needs of hypersensitive individuals in their sound environments. Along the way, we've met some pretty awesome people, who've opened our eyes (and ears) to the sound struggles they face on a daily basis.

Here are a few of the things they've said:

"I decided not to join my friends and go to see Hamilton, because I couldn't handle the amount of noise."

"I can't face the wall of sound at the cafeteria, so I eat lunch alone in my office."

"The more overstimulated you are, the harder it is to predict your tipping point, communicate your overwhelmed state, and make the decision to escape."

We've learned that there are people keenly sensitive to sound all around us. 1 in 68 individuals are on the autism spectrum, and the majority of these people are acutely impacted by their sound environments, but don't understand or feel in control of how sound impacts them.

So, how can we help those with sound sensitivity build real-time awareness of personal noise thresholds and plan for overwhelmingly noisy places so they can take better control of their lives?