Fujitsu Launches Event Support Service Featuring Ontenna, a User Interface Device to Sense Sound with the Body

Offering free trial Ontenna to schools for the deaf across Japan

Ontenna devices
Users wearing Ontenna devices

Fujitsu Limited today announced that in July, 2019, the company will launch a service supporting sports and cultural events using Ontenna, a device that lets users sense sound with their bodies. In addition, as of today, Fujitsu is providing a free trial version of Ontenna for schools for the deaf. The trial will begin in 30 schools, with the goal of encouraging the use of this device in day-to-day education for deaf students.

Developed in collaboration with members of the deaf and hearing impaired community, Ontenna is a user interface device that can be equipped to users in various ways – worn like a hair pin or attached to the shirt collar-, letting them sense sound characteristics through vibration and light.

The manufacturer of Ontenna, Fujitsu Electronics Inc., plans to develop enterprise businesses using Ontenna and begin sales to individual consumers via ecommerce sites, in July 2019.

By providing this service, Fujitsu aims to create a future that can be enjoyed by both hearing and deaf people.

Background

In light of the enactment of the Act for Eliminating Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities on April 1, 2016, in Japan, there have been active efforts to enable those with disabilities to participate in society and become self-reliant, particularly in education.

Fujitsu began the research and development of Ontenna in fiscal 2015, with the goal of delivering sound to the deaf. The company has hence conducted repeated trials using Ontenna in a variety of environments, including not only educational settings in schools for the deaf, but also sports events, concerts, and tap dance exhibitions.

About the Ontenna Event Support Service

1. Service Summary

Fujitsu is offering sports and culture organizations an event support service using Ontenna, which can convert sound vibration patterns from an audio source between approximately 60 and 90 dB to 256 levels of vibration and light strength. The event support service provides the Ontenna devices as well as a full range of services, from setting up the system environment to operation on the day of the event, making it easy for event operators using Ontenna.

In addition, by delivering specific sounds at sports competitions and events with more dynamic vibration and light, Ontenna can convey the ambiance and a sense of unity among the audience, increasing the value of the experience.

Because Ontenna is not reliant on language, it can also provide a new way of attending events regardless of disability or nationality. Accordingly, Fujitsu aims to establish a model case for creating an inclusive society by using Ontenna.

2. Pricing and Availability

3. Sales Target

Fujitsu aims to provide this service to 1,000 events held by sports and cultural organizations as well as local governments by the end of fiscal 2021 (Fujitsu’s fiscal year ends March 31).

About the Free Provision of a Trial Version of Ontenna to Schools for the Deaf

Students at deaf schools face difficulties in many situations in recognizing sound characteristics and feeling rhythms due to their hearing difficulties. For example, deaf students have challenges controlling the strength of their voice in speaking practices, since they cannot hear the volume of their voice. Also when beating a drum in music class, deaf students are unable to beat along with the rhythm because they cannot hear the sound, so teachers have to provide support, such as by touching the student’s back. Since they have to provide support for multiple students, teachers at schools for the deaf are burdened with heavy workload.

In order to evaluate its effectiveness in resolving such issues in schools for the deaf, Fujitsu is offering free trial Ontenna devices for a number of deaf schools, beginning on June 11th, 2019. Using Ontenna, the company expects students at deaf schools to expand their interest in the rhythm and strength or weakness of sounds. Moreover, teachers with reduced workload will be able to provide equal educational opportunities for all students.

Ontenna devices in use at a school for the deaf
Ontenna devices in use at a school for the deaf

About Ontenna

1. Summary

Ontenna is a user interface device that can be equipped to users such as in their hair, on their earlobe, shirt collar or sleeve, enabling them to feel sound characteristics with their bodies through light and vibration. Because hearing impaired users can understand the volume of their own voices and of sounds around them, Ontenna can be used to practice controlling the strength and weakness of sound, such as during speech practice or when practicing an instrument including drums and recorders.

2. Features

  • Sounds between approximately 60 and 90 dB are conveyed to the user via 256 levels of vibration and light. By converting sound vibration patterns from a sound source to vibration in real time, the user can feel the rhythm, pattern, and volume of sounds.
  • The device can not only be attached to the hair like a hairpin, it can also be attached to places
  • The device can be easily charged with magnetic charging, reducing the burden on the user.
  • With sound zoom function that expands the range of sound acquisition, the device can be used in different ways, depending on the environment.
    • If used in a crowded environment, it can be set to respond only to loud sounds (approximately 80-90 dB).
    • If used in a quiet environment, such as a classroom, it can be set to respond to ordinary conversations as well (approximately 60-90 dB).
  • The system features a smart mode where multiple Ontenna devices can be controlled simultaneously using a controller.
    • The rhythm and pattern of the sound detected by the controller can be conveyed to multiple Ontenna devices in real time.
    • Multiple Ontenna devices can simultaneously vibrate at the push of a button on the controller.
Ontenna devices
Ontenna devices
Controllers
Controllers