A (philanthropic) bridge between Italy and Denmark. The aim? To turn speechless, inert pieces of jewellery into real talking ‘jewels of communication’.

In the Fab Lab rooms of the University of Siena, Italy, a unique collection of interactive accessories has been developed to raise a smile in women affected by deafness.

Quietude, as this very special jewellery collection has been named, is the successful integration of aesthetic needs and technology.

The project has been financed by the European Union, while the array of interactive ornaments has been designed and worked up by the University of Siena in collaboration with Glitch Factory, the Siena Art Institute and the University of Southern Denmark.

Such peerless hi-tech jewels allow the users to experience sound through their body. Necklaces, rings and bracelets can detect noises from the external environment and convert them into vibrations, lights and colours.

In this way, sounds become perceptible through senses which are different from hearing, such as sight and touch, enabling even who cannot hear to grasp what is going on in her surroundings.

The ornaments are complemented by a smartphone app which registers all the significant external sounds and progressively notifies the person wearing the jewellery through a specific light sign or vibration.

Each jewel is thus specifically designed for the disabled person and her needs and further “personalisable” with additional hearing aids, transformed into a la mode, fancy accessories.

Head of the project is Professor Patrizia Marti, who defines the purposes of Quietude in terms of synergy between aids for disability and respect for the desire of beauty, comfort and wellbeing of the user, as to reduce the hindering impacts of the handicap.

Even in the work-in-progress leading to the realisation of the jewels, the person’s needs have been brought to the fore, through the involvement of a few deaf women in the different planning stages via methods of co-design.

From stigma to fairy tale objects of desire, hearing aids have unexpectedly become fashion through an Italian-European idea to fight against deafness in the spirit of solidarity and collaboration.

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