Engineered Synaesthesia: Smart Glasses Help Deaf People See Sounds
a group of researchers from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) in Daejeon built a pair of glasses which allows the wearer to “see” when a loud sound is made, and gives an indication of where it came from. An array of seven microphones, mounted on the frame of the glasses, pinpoints the location of such sounds and relays that directional information to the wearer through a set of LEDs embedded inside the frame.
The glasses will only flash alerts on sounds louder than a threshold level, which is defined by the wearer. Previous attempts at devices which could alert deaf users to surrounding noises have been ungainly. For example, research in 2003 at the University of California, Berkeley, used a computer monitor to provide users with a visual aid to pinpoint the location of a sound. The Korean team have not beaten this problem quite yet - the prototype requires a user to carry a laptop around in a backpack to process the signal. But lead researcher Yang-Hann Kim stresses that the device is a first iteration that will be miniaturised over the next few years.
(via Sharp-eared glasses let deaf people ‘see’ sounds - tech - 05 September 2012 - New Scientist)