IBM develops mobile system for the hard of hearing

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IBM develops mobile system for the hard of hearing

Location-specific alerts delivered via SMS.

IBM has developed a mobile phone system designed to improve communications for hearing impaired users when they enter locations such as railway stations, airports and workplaces.

The Location Aware Messaging for Accessibility (Lama) system was developed by students involved in a research project at IBM's software laboratory at Hursley House in Hampshire.

Lama can send a wide range of location-specific information to the user's mobile phones in a range of requested delivery formats. These are usually text messages, but an image or tactile alert such as handset vibration can also be sent.

As the user enters a location running Lama, such as a railway station or airport, their mobile phone actively recognises the system and provides a list of messaging services on offer.

Following service registration, users can be alerted automatically to public address announcements, which are immediately converted into their preferred format.

"I am very excited about the potential of this development as it could reduce the sense of isolation experienced by hearing impaired people," said David Livermore, chairman of Deafness Research UK.

"Specifically, it offers the opportunity for hearing impaired people to be aware of urgent announcements whether they be on public transport or in the workplace."

Lama makes use of Bluetooth and GPRS technologies, and can be adapted to work with Wi-Fi and GSM networks.

System installation simply requires the location to integrate Lama hardware and software into their existing IT and communications infrastructure.

This enables Lama-enabled mobile phones to interact with the system to access information and notifications specific to that location.

Lama is due to be piloted across the UK in the coming months. When fully implemented it is anticipated that users will be able easily to download Lama client software to their mobile phone from a website.
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