Social earplugs: a case study on integrating human augmentation in hearing protection

DS 122: Proceedings of the Design Society: 24th International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED23)

Year: 2023
Editor: Kevin Otto, Boris Eisenbart, Claudia Eckert, Benoit Eynard, Dieter Krause, Josef Oehmen, Nad
Author: De Boeck, Muriel; Sempels, Jill; Vaes, Kristof
Series: ICED
Institution: University of Antwerp
Section: Design Methods
Page(s): 3185-3194
DOI number:


Social augmentation refers to a human-computer integration technology that aims to enhance the user's social skills by supporting empathy, interaction and communication. This study investigated the implementation of social augmentation in hearing protection within the context of entertainment. Through a user-centred analysis, potential social augmentation functions for earplugs were conceived. Three innovative conceptual prototypes were then developed, each enriched with three social functions. Accordingly, each of these concepts should ensure that social skill is enhanced, facilitated or improved. To assess whether the concepts were successful, the social impact of the prototypes on the user and bystanders was evaluated and compared through questionnaires and focus groups using video footage. The results provided promising conclusions regarding the applied methodology and the potential for optimizing the iteration process of innovative human augmentation concepts.

Keywords: Social augmentation, Case study, Conceptual design, Design methodology, User centred design

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