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General "Radical" Design/Materials, etc Web Search

In searching for the term "Radical Design" I got nearly 26 million hits on Google, first of which was to the maker of outdoor products, most of which seemed pretty straightforward. The second link was for Free Radical Design, a game designer in England. By removing "Free Radical Design" and "Radical Design Outdoor Products" from the search, I somehow managed to get more hits, but with a better collection of links than before. Not surprisingly one of the first few links was to this class.

One link was for a symposium about "Radical Design", but appeared more centered toward innovation and creativity than radical design. I found several interesting links for the Dyson vacuum cleaner, which seemed radical in many aspects, but still retained the standard stand-up design of other handheld vacuums, rather than a complete redesign, as well as for interesting boats and mediocre at best websites for web-based design.

Other search queries returned much more interesting results, such as:

Many, many more links were found, but very few of them related to design courses. A few were for design schools, rating them, or self-proclaimed "best" school websites. Many of these courses, however, focused on design itself and expected the creativity of the individual to produce the "radical" part. This has been the case throughout history, but the fact is that there really are not other courses (especially outiside of the design schools, that force radical thinking and creativity within groups that may be unaccustomed to that. Perhaps with more people getting such backgrounds, innovation will become more prevalent.

Product of Interest Research: Hearing Aids

Nearly 30 million people in the US suffer from hearing loss. There are many million more throughout the world, many of whom suffer from hearing loss without being able to deal with their problem. Through out time, hearing loss has been a problem, and even before the advent of electromagnetic devices to be able to amplify the sound, people used acoustic hearing aids. The loss of hearing is caused by many different factors, including disease, prolonged or severe sickness, and the prolonged exposure to very loud sounds. Although many people develop hearing loss over time, some are born with genetic disorders that cause degredation of hearing, or improper development of hearing mechanisms. The severity of hearing loss varies significantly, from mild -- which many individuals experience throughout the world -- to severe, in which a device is required to be able to even hear anything.

Hearing aids are used by those individuals who suffer from hearing loss and are able to afford such devices. Unfortunately not everyone (especially those without money or health insurance) can afford such devices, and are unable to hear (at least as well as others that wear hearing aids). Such devices are either in-the-ear or over-the-ear and are worn whenever the user has to be able to hear. They can become unfortable when worn for prolonged periods of time, and must be kept clean and free of rust. This requires work on the part of the user, rather than allowing them to enjoy hearing as though they have no hearing loss whatsoever.

Hearing aids themselves provide both the pickup and transmission of sound from the outside world to the user by means of various forms of electromagnetic and acoustic sound input and output, as well as sound processing to provide clear sound to the user. In order to achieve the benefits of the device, it must be worn whenever the user wants to hear. The user cannot forget to wear the product, must be aware of exposure to moisture, and have to change batteries on a regular basis in order to enjoy their usage.

Aestetically, some hearing aids are very obvious and difficult to ignore, whereas some fall within the ear and are more difficult to see. Some have colors that attempt to make them more interesting, especially to younger individuals. The aestetic aspect of hearing aids, however, is secondary to their usage, and often an afterthought. Such devices are fairly easy to use, requiring very limited adjustment by the user. The controls that are available are simple, and changing batteries is pretty easy to do, as long as someone can handle the small size of the batteries. In fact, some battery companies have developed packages that allow elderly to more easily handle the very tiny batteries that the hearing aids require. Though hearing aids provide great benefit to the user, strictly speaking they are designed for utility, not for entertainment or enjoyment. They are not designed to provide fun, interesting, exciting, and engageing benefits -- though they need not be limited to utility.

I feel there are many aspects of hearing aids that are waiting to be redesigned with new ideas in mind. Specifically, I think that hearing aids can be reintroduced to the public as a single, comfortable, easy to use, self-powered device that provides both attenuation and amplification of sound, wireless recieving of music/radio/etc, conversion of languages, and many other features -- while at the same time protecting the user's ears to ensure they do not get damaged, rather than just providing a crutch for damage that is already done. Much like glasses are being replaced by laser surgery to fix the damage rather than help to cover it up, these new hearing aids could provide safety to the ears of all users, as well as an engaging and exciting experience to all users.

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Page last modified on September 26, 2006, at 03:15 AM