UX design

People, whose mother tongue is sign language, need to break the ice when meeting someone for the first time. It is not easy to start a conversation with people that don’t know sign language. My team Eisbreaker developed the prototype "Owl", which is an interpreter owl. Sign language people can use this owl to communicate with others. At the Open Health HACKademy be able, students from different disciplines, differently able people (people with disabilities) and makers jointly develop open-source hardware solutions using electronic prototyping, coding, digital fabrication, and design thinking.


Understanding Users, creation of prototypes, conception, ideation




Tomie, Simon, Dean and coaches (Daniel Wessolek, Isabelle Dechamps, Yi-Cong Lu)

How might we help the user to communicate with others for the first time?


It is not easy for people whose native language is sign language to start a conversation with people that don't know sign language.



Jakob's mother tongue is German sign language,
wants to have a friend in the hearing world,

needs to keep eye contact during the conversation because he communicates with people through eyes.

Prototypes & ideas


Our first idea was a glass wall between the user and speaking people. So, when a person uses spoken language, the glass wall shows it as text to Jakob. When the user uses sign language, it translates into text for the person using spoken language. Thus, they can keep eye contact through the glass wall and have a conversation.

The second idea were special glasses and an interpreter owl. The user wears the glasses and the speaking person has the owl. When the user uses sign language, it is translated by the owl into sound. When the speaking person says something, it is translated into text in the glasses of the user.



It is important that speaking people learn about their own privilege to be able to hear. Therefore, the prototype should promote empathy for sign language users.


Furthermore, owls have a special meaning for sign language people. Sign language users share a big sympathy for the Harry Potter. His owl is a connection between him and the magic world. Similarly, the owl can become a connection between the worlds of people using sign language and people using spoken language.

Final Prototype


We realized our second idea. In our prototype the owl reads texts which the user writes through the Telegram messenger. Furthermore, the owl translates spoken language into text and the user receives it as a Telegram message. So, the user can easily communicate with people, who he meets for the first time. The owl becomes the user’s ice breaker. We decided to use a doll. So, everyone can buy their own owl (or other doll) and add necessary devices to the doll.

In the end, my team members with programming skills took care of the technical part. I made a storyboard and presentation video to promote our idea and how it is working.







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