Imagine not being able to hear when a fire alarm has gone off, or knowing when a vehicle is speeding towards you as you cross the road.
Rippl, a Young Enterprise group from ACG Parnell College, is on a mission to protect people with hearing loss from dangers like these by helping them ‘feel’ the sensations of their surroundings.
Motivated by the story of a deaf University of Auckland student who was left inside a library when he didn’t hear the fire alarm go off, the group has developed a ‘sleek and stigma-free’ device called The Pulse that translates users’ auditory environments into a series of comfortable vibrations, helping deaf people to “feel their space.”
Their product, a situation simulator wristband, caught the eye of Young Enterprise coordinator Matt Stenton who selected them to present in front of 500 people at Kea Inspire – a global event series featuring the best Kiwi speakers and presenters in the world.
“Their passion and cause was amazing, their challenges had been huge, the lessons they had learnt even bigger,” he explained. “I also knew that one of their biggest challenges was going to be raising enough awareness and funds to bring their product to life, so this was the perfect platform for them.”
Not only did the group present well; they were a crowd favourite.
“The audience was extremely supportive of our idea and our appeal for help,” said Rippl CEO Tiffany Chee, Year 13. “It was an awesome opportunity to reflect on how far we have come and the potential our business has by gaining the support of many successful businesspeople.”
Rippl believes they are the world’s first business to create a device like the Pulse. They were finalists in the Auckland Region Dragons Den, came second in iDEAStarter, and are currently investigating a partnership with the National Foundation of the Deaf (NFD).
The next step is to develop a prototype, which they’re discussing with sound engineers and engineering firms. But the research and development phase will cost at least $75,000 and they can’t go forward without help. The group is now aiming to raise funds for Phase One through a Give a Little page.
Ripple team members are: Tiffany Chee (CEO), Dylan Surti (Finance), Derek Chow and Leanne Chew (Marketing), Horace Lee (Communications) and Arnav Shetty (Production), all in Year 13.