In Brief
A group of students from the Singapore University of Technology and Design have designed a clip-on accessory for glasses that turns nearby sounds into flashing lights. The project, called Peri, is meant to help those suffering from hearing loss.

Peri is an accessory that clips onto eyeglasses and translates nearby sounds into flashing lights — perfect for those with hearing problems, who sometimes miss out on what’s being said to them, or on noises that could alert them to events occurring nearby.

The design takes some inspiration from video games, which alert the player to nearby threats via a red glow. In games, however, they typically only appear when someone takes damage, while Peri could help the wearer avoid harm.

Pavithren Pakianathan, lead designer of the team from the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), told Mashable it took about four months to complete the current prototype, which utilizes four microphones and LED lights. Peri’s circuits create a specific lighting pattern according to the loudest sound detected, and indicate the direction of the sound. The project was so impressive it won the James Dyson engineering award.

The Peri prototype, worn by one of the team members. (Image Credit: Peri/Pavithren Pakianathan)

Pakianathan and his team aim to improve the accessory’s design while maintaining the low cost to users. Future iterations may be able to better separate sounds in busy areas, and could include light sensors capable of adjusting the brightness of the LED lights.

According to the World Health Organization, nearly 5 percent of the world’s population (360 millions people) suffer from hearing loss, with 32 million being children. If Peri, or a similar idea, gets proper funding, development, and becomes mainstream, it could improve the lives of those with hearing problems, and provide some additional color to their quieter world.