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This was undertaken as a group university project in 2020 for our 'Human Centred Design Engineering' module. We were given an open brief to design something for physical well-being, with the final outcome manifested through 'works-like' and 'looks-like' prototypes.


1 in 5 young adults (18-25) suffer from some variation of permanent tinnitus, a ringing in the ear caused by exposure to loud noise. This can cause harmful consequential effects, including depression, and construction workers are particularly at risk; with studies showing that over 50% of workers have experienced significant abnormal noise-induced hearing loss.


Protec addresses the problem, not by reinventing ear protection itself, but by offering reliable noise data to facilitate the interaction between the user and their protective equipment, and by providing coherent feedback to the site manager.

Short video explaining the problem and our solution

_________ My Project Roles _________

Research & Development

The primary focus of this module was to follow a user-driven design process. We thus started by carrying out user interviews to uncover key insights.

A crucial finding was that the problem isn't a fault of the PPE itself, but rather a lack of knowledge, and ignorance of workers to the risks of hearing damage.

This guided my early designs, where I envisaged a product that would simply alert and prompt workers to put on their protection at the required times.

At every phase of development, we conducted further user research; to understand which aspects of our designs were beneficial to the user, and what could be improved.

Orthographic sketch of my early concept
Further development from my early concept
Lo-Fi Prototype - using a phone for vibration
'Works-like' Prototyping
Python code - runs to receive and plot the live data

Technical Feasibility

Having settled on the 'SHIELD' concept, arising from the combination of the best aspects of each of our designs, it was then my responsibility to produce a works-like prototype, to validate the technical feasibility.

To do this, I used an Arduino to create a bluetooth-based system that would detect the noise-levels present in the room, and wirelessly transmit them to a separate device. This device would run a Python script, which plotted the data and output this in real-time.

This data logging would be used to produce the sound map; alerting the site manager to risky areas. Furthermore, the LEDs act as the warning to workers, where a red LED indicates that ear defenders are currently required.

Articulating the Concept

Communicating the concept, and explaining why it has value, is just as important as developing the concept in the first place.

I took on the role of planning, writing the script, and editing the short video that outlines the project problem and solution, which can be seen above.

Further to this, I helped to lead the presentation to a panel of tutors and external guests. This was was carried out online, owing to the Covid 19 pandemic, but was nonetheless well-received - with our project achieving outstanding recognition in the form of a DESIRE Award.

Final concept visualisation
Further visualisation

_________ Skills Developed _________

Soft Skills

User-focused Research & Design | Story-telling | Presenting | Communication & Teamwork

Hard Skills

Electronics | Coding (C++ & Python) | Video Editing (Premiere Pro) | Graphical Design (Illustrator & InDesign)