Facett is the world’s first modular self-fit hearing aid. I designed it with Blamey Saunders hears and in May 2018 Facett received the 2018 Good Design Award, CSIRO Design Innovation Award and two Best in Class Good Design Awards (Product Design - Medical and Scientific and Social Innovation).
In order to distinguish Facett from traditional hearing aids I worked with the mineralogy collection at Museums Victoria. The crystalline form seeks to shift stigma, to move hearing aids from disability to desirability.
In addition to looking different to traditional hearing aids Facett functions differently - the intuitive magnetic connector bypasses the need to change tiny batteries, an ongoing frustration for older people with arthritic fingers or vision impairment.
I designed Facett through a human-centred approach, spending time with over 25 hearing aid users to understand what it’s really like to depend on a technology to live and work.
Facett was evolved through an iterative approach and 130 of the additive manufactured models, drawings and the final technology have been acquired into the Museums Victoria heritage collection. this recognises the impact of Facett as a great example of Victorian Innovation.
The work is part of an exhibition at Melbourne Museum until July 2018 alongside early bionic eye work.
New Victorian Hearing Aid Tech is Music to all Ears
Melbourne Knowledge Week 2018 presents: Leah Heiss - FACETT | City of Melbourne
Smart Heart necklace
The Smart Heart necklace was a two year collaboration with St. Vincent's Hospital Melbourne, RMIT University, and the Nossal Institute for Global Health; funded by Gandel Philanthropy.
The project is a wearable cardiac monitor necklace with the capacity to collect, store and remotely transmit cardiac data collected over an extended period for analysis by medical professionals. The neckpiece is aimed at patients who have recently suffered a heart attack or who are experiencing heart rhythm problems and aims to replace the bulky cardiac holter monitor with something that is more integrated into people's daily lives.
The CaT Pin is a discreet, low-cost wearable to detect loneliness. In the form of a lapel pin or brooch, the CaT pin detects the presence or absence of conversation. It is founded on the premise that loneliness is manifest in a poverty of conversation, hence using the number of words spoken a day as a surrogate marker for social isolation and loneliness.
The CaT pin records the number of words spoken per minute by the wearer and correlates this with a baseline figure for healthy interaction rates. When the wearer drops below a certain number of words per hour, or words per day, a text message will be sent to a loved one, volunteer phone service or health care worker. This provides a nudge for that person to make a phone call or drop around for a conversation, helping to ameliorate the experience of loneliness.
The form of the CaT Pin can be customised to the style and aesthetics of the wearer by imprinting its surface with cherished jewellery, medals or textiles. Thus the CaT Pin becomes a treasured possession that is also a mnemonic device, reflecting the wearer’s personal identity.
The Diabetes Jewellery project was developed in collaboration with Nanotechnology Victoria in 2007-8. The technology allows for pain-free delivery of insulin to the body, replacing syringes. Philosophically the technologies question how we might ‘enable’ our favourite possessions with functionality above and beyond the aesthetic.
Thanks to Arts Victoria AIR Residency program and The Australian Network for Art and Technology
Photographer: Narelle Portanier
The Incus, developed for Blamey Saunders Hears in 2013, enables the user of a hearing aid to tailor their hearing experience on-the-go. The programmer sits between the hearing aid and a mobile device and allows for discreet switching of hearing programs - e.g. from bike riding to a church service – to ensure the user has full hearing in all conditions.
The Incus is part of the IHearYou self fit hearing system that won the inaugural Good Design Award, Social Innovation, 2015 and the Good Design Award Product Design - Medical and Scientific, 2015.
The polarise series of works use nano-engineered magnetic liquid (Ferro Fluid) as a central part of dynamic installations. Polarity - developed for the New Media Artists Award at GOMA - and its precursor Polarise incorporate hand-blown glass vessels and magnetic liquid which reacts to the presence of magnetic field.
These works were supported by an Australia Council Visual Arts Grant titled Material Poetic, in partnership with nanotechnology Victoria.
This research investigates the potential to therapeutically augment medical jewellery using nanotechnologies and micro-electronics. The project works from the need for well researched and designed emergency jewellery using advanced technologies to identify the wearer’s allergies and identity in times of medical crisis. Developed in collaboration with Keely Macarow and Paul Beckett. Film stills by Wootown Studios and Narelle Portanier, compositing by Tom Frauenfelder
The ‘Seed Sensor’ is a swallowable tablet that unfolds like a flower in the digestive tract to detect gas fluctuations in the body (methane, carbon dioxide etc) that may be a symptom of undiagnosed disease. The aim of the project is to achieve a less invasive biomedical application than what is currently available. Developed in collaboration with Paul Beckett. Photographs by Narelle Sheean
Shape Change Jewellery
During 2009 I was funded by the Australia Council to develop Material Poetic: jewellery-scale artefacts with materials ‘at the extremes of the poetic spectrum’, including shape change metals (NiTiNol) - which alter their form when warmed. Pictured here are a number of experimental jewellery pieces that respond to changes in body temperature.
Photographs by Narelle Portanier and David Callow.
Shape Change Jewellery 1
Arsenic Jewellery + Vessels
The Arsenic project was developed in collaboration with Nanotechnology Victoria during an Arts Victoria AIR Residency in 2007-8. The Arsenic Neckpiece and water vessels house mesoporous iron oxide (Fe2O3) which remove arsenic and other hazardous chemicals from drinking water. They are designed for people in transit in countries where arsenic is prevalent in found water - such as India and Bangladesh.
‘Ether Beat’ encompasses a range of compatible garments and artefacts that sense and transmit heartbeat, facilitating a remote sense of empathy between physically distant loved ones. The garments allow you to ‘wear’ the heartbeat of your remote friend/lover/relative while the Hand Hearts are hand-held devices that beat with the remote heartwave. The research was interested in facilitating both physiological and emotional empathy and was developed during my Masters of Design 2004-2006.
Inner’ was developed during the ANAT reSkin Wearable Technologies Laboratory in early 2007. It deals with issues of intrapersonal understanding - focussing on foibles, oddities, idiosyncrasies and eccentricities that may allude to emotional state. The garment senses a nervous habit – in this case touching the sternum – through the sensitive gingko brooch at the neck. This information is transmuted into an internal output: softly activating solenoids which tap against the ribcage, and an external output: subtle pulsating optic fibre along the stomach. It allows for an awareness of our non-conscious behaviours and is the continuation of a series of projects which investigate delicate technologies which augment our relationship with the world and people within it.
Materials: Silk Organza, silver, high density foam, solenoids, Arduino microprocessor, electronics, optic fibre
Drift is a series of handheld interactive elements that investigate social behaviours. They were developed for the Super Human exhibition at RMIT Gallery in 2009. The luminescent pods pulsate softly - beckoning one to pick them up – engaging our curiosity. When curiosity overcomes and we pick the pods up they react to the holder in playful, confronting and unexpected ways. Drift questions how through imbuing our artefacts with interactivity we may actually be giving them personality traits – the capacity to behave in erratic, complex and unforseen ways. The devices that make up Drift utilise nano-engineered electroluminescent cable, which is activated by sensors.