The system uses Audio-Visual Conversion (AVC) and Audio-Tactile Conversion (ATC), to help hearing-impaired drivers by drawing on their sense of touch sight.
The AVC system picks up and differentiates between various sounds from outside the vehicle, such as horns and emergency vehicle sirens. It communicates them with the driver using pictograms on the head-up display (HUD) that show what is making the sound.
The ATC transfers the same sound data into vibrations through the steering wheel, notifying the driver of information about external environments such as distance from obstacles.
The steering wheel also has multi-coloured LEDs that provide navigational information in place of audible instructions.
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Hyundai has demonstrated the technology in the above video called ‘Quiet Taxi’ that aspires to give hope to drivers with a hearing impairment.
The short clip features Seoul’s first designated hearing-impaired taxi driver Daeho Lee, who had to rely mainly on his sight that, apart from the obvious limitations, also causes fatigue due to of the additional concentration required.
As you’ll see in the video, Hyundai also developed an application that enables communication between passengers and hearing-impaired drivers.
Hyundai hasn’t declared if or when its hearing aid technology will be become available in its production vehicles. It certainly is seems feasible for the near future, however, and some elements could even prove handy for all drivers - such as the early sensing of emergency vehicle sirens, for example.