Mac’s petit inventions: Gadgets for the physically challenged

Mac’s Petit Inventions

Mac Funamizu shares with us his design ideas. He looks at everyday things and envisions their future.

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Quite often I think about what it would be like if I had any kind of disability. A long time ago, I saw a drama in which a poor girl loses her ability to hear and speak. In the last episode, she also becomes vision-impaired. Even now the memory sometimes reminds me of the challenging situation she was put into. It triggered me enough to try and come up with some helpful tools or gadgets.

I’m not sure if these ideas could be realized.. But if it’s possible I’m sure it will be a big help for the physically challenged.

Gadget 1: The sign language interpreter


Meet the sign language interpreter. A small pendant-like gadget that enables a vocally-challenged person to speak. The camera captures the motion image of the speaker’s hand gesture. It translates it into an oral language and gives out the translated words.

You can pre-choose what kind of voice you’d like it to speak in.


It’s easy to turn it on: just click the bottom part when you want to use the interpreter. It will open up the speaker. The wider the speaker opens, the louder the volume. This volume control will probably be used very often, since you don’t want it to speak loud in a quiet space. So I thought it must be as easy and intuitive as possible. To turn it off, click it back and shut.

(The camera is capturing the image)


Gadget 2: Live cartoonversation interpreter

This gadget is to help the hearing-impaired follow conversations.

Speech balloons in comic books show very well how the characters speak. So if there was a way to see instantly visualized images of how people speak, wouldn’t it be nice for the hearing-impaired? It means they can SEE our voices.

With the particular characteristics of the speech balloons you see in comic books, you can see and feel how the words are being spoken.

speech balloon helps hearing-impaired? speech balloon helps hearing-impaired? speech balloon helps hearing-impaired?

Mac Funamizu

Mac is an in-house web/graphic designer working in Tokyo, Japan. In his free time he invents new products and interactions.

4 comments on this article

  1. Lennart Andersson on


  2. I love these… Idea: you might want to use the cartoon style transscripts in augmented reality glasses or something.

  3. tomo on

    It would be pretty akward carying a transparent screen in your hands all day, just in case the phone might ring.

    If a deaf person wore transparent glasses, that would be a bit nicer.

    And the deaf person could “listen” to other peoples conversation without obviously eavesdroping…

    The eye-glasses could be taught to recognize the sound of the telefone so a little icon could appear in the corner of the glasses so it would not interfere with other interpretting and stuff…

    (Just lending a hand for an otherwise great idea :)

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