Dubai student's game-changing innovation for the deaf

Nandini Sircar/Dubai
Filed on February 21, 2021
JayShaud has innovated a 'Smart Pillow' as part of his Master degree in Dubai.

SmartPillow app provides alternative sensory alerts in emergency situations

A 24-year-old Dubai student, JayShaud Potter, has developed a new technology that delivers an early warning of emergency situations for people coping with hearing loss challenges.

Drawing on his own experience of living with deafness, JayShaud has innovated a 'Smart Pillow' as part of his Master degree in City Sciences from the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) Dubai.

JayShaud used the Internet of Things (IoT) to network domestic devices, such as door bells, smoke alarms and security systems, to deliver an alternative sensory alert which is connected to a user’s smartphone or tablet.

Born deaf, JayShaud often struggled to communicate the day-to-day challenges he faced with his hearing impairment.

He said: “When I was younger, I had difficulties with simple things, like getting up in the morning, because I wasn’t able to hear an alarm like the rest of my family. As I grew up, I spent a lot of time worrying about what might happen in an emergency situation like a fire or the threat of an intruder.”

His technology is designed to improve the quality of life and promote independent living for people with hearing loss and to address the challenges of other people of determination.

Speaking about his innovation, JayShaud explained: “I have faced several worries pertaining to tackling emergency situations. Through the application, the pillow connects to a user’s phone or tablet to deliver a wake-up prompt. It can also connect to any smart household device, from doorbells and car alarms to smoke/carbon detectors and baby monitors, to provide non-audio alerts about unusual activities or emergency situations through alternative techniques such as lights and haptics.”

Lauding the UAE’s initiatives undertaken to encourage innovation and technology in the country, JayShaud, a US national, pointed out that he specifically came here to pursue his Master’s programme.

He said: “I have always been passionate about technology and started to explore how it could help overcome some of the impediments we face due to hearing loss. Dubai is renowned for its innovative approaches and smart technology and it seemed like the perfect place for me to pursue this ambition. Despite having to return home due to the pandemic, my degree programme and the city itself, provided a huge inspiration in working towards my goal.”

Dr Sanjay Modak, chair of Graduate Programmes & Research Department at RIT Dubai, said: “We know from World Health Organsation (WHO) statistics that there are 300 million plus deaf people across the world and this concept could be a game-changer in their daily life. JayShaud has surmounted many challenges throughout his studies and his hard work and dedication to the programme have made us very proud.”

JayShaud is now taking forward his innovation while also embarking upon his MBA in New York.

He revealed: “I am continuing to test and refine the technology to see how we might address other challenges and to bring more functionality. This wasn’t just a one-off project for my degree, it’s an initiative that I intend to pursue, develop further and ultimately hope to mainstream among the wider deaf community.”

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