Feel people smile with Simon Dogger’s handheld device for the visually impaired

“Being able to understand other people is about the quality of dialogue which is actually about the quality of life.”

Simon Dogger, a sound and sense designer based in the Netherlands, became blind 6 years ago as the result of an illness.

In his recovery, he found that his day to day life and his work was missing a key element: human emotion. Nothing conveys human emotion better than body language: a smirk, a smile, a furrowed brow.

Without the benefit of seeing people react to him, there were noticeable gaps in his interactions.

As a response, he designed the Emotion Whisperer. The round, handheld device connected to a smartphone, and a camera, which is mounted on the user’s glasses.

Emotion Whisperer - Picture by Jamie Matroos

The camera records the person in the wearer’s line of sight, sends the information to the smartphone, which then translates the person’s facial expression into a series of telling vibrations.

It lets the wearer analyse what the person they’re talking to is feeling based on their facial expression.

Speaking at the Design Indaba Conference 2018, Dogger said it’s like being able to feel somebody smile.

“What really is my business is to make something that is turning around the quality of dialogue, to understand people – the most important thing in life,” he adds. “Being able to understand other people is about the quality of dialogue which is actually about the quality of life.”

His full Design Talk will be released in June, but he unpacks the process in the video below:

Dogger was one the global graduates at this year’s Design Indaba and joined the likes of James Dyson Award winner Renate Souza, a Mexican-American designer who created an insulin kit for children with type 1 diabetes, and Tomo Kihara, a design researcher from Japan who develops playful interventions to challenge and reframe societal issues.

Dogger is also the designer behind medical jewellery, a line of medical equipment that removes the stigma of illness by adding a level of aesthetic beauty to medical devices, and Mood Colours, a communication tool that translates your emotion into colour.

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Watch the Talk with Simon Dogger