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The hearing loss game.

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Project Details


UX Studio I: Innovation

Prof. Sung Park

Project Duration

10 weeks

Team Members

Hagar Baruch

Andrea Castro Yanes

Danlei Xiang

Leo Caballero

Eduardo Alfonso

My Role

Team Lead

Project Management

Overview This quarter we have been given the challenge of designing with a passion project in mind. Our group decided to look at unexpected transitions, since Covid-19 has disheveled the average flow of education, we felt that we related. Unexpected transitions come in various ways, and we looked at a variety of unexpected transitions that piqued our interest.


We decided to focus on social isolation in Older Adults, a chronic issue that affects most Older Adults in the US, and is an issue we will all face eventually in our lifetimes.

Defining the Problem


create more empathy in Older Adults’s social circle?

The Problem

Older adults with age-related hearing loss (also known as presbycusis), experience poor communication which leads to anger, frustration & depression, and as a consequence, strained relationships and social isolation.

Our Solution

“What?” is a collaborative card game that fosters empathy for the hearing loss experience within social circles and alleviates the stigma and emotional barriers older adults with presbycusis face in their social lives.


Introducing What?


How it works

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What? Interaction Model

What? Feature Breakdown

The Cards

The game presents 10 types of fun & engaging activities such as Say it Loud, Broken Telephone, Clap that Number & many more! The card includes a visual representation of the activity, instructions & the level of difficulty.

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Levels & Difficulty

Each type of activity has a different level of difficulty indicated by the ear icon at the bottom of the card. The distance indicates how far apart each player stands at to increase difficulty & encourage movement.

Progressive Hearing Loss

The game comes with earplugs & earmuffs to provide noise reduction means that simulate varying levels of hearing loss. The earmuffs come with 4 foams pads that increase the level of hearing loss from mild hearing loss (32 dB) to moderately severe hearing loss (57 dB)


How did we get here?


Secondary Research

Our problem space

Hearing loss in Older Adults causes multiple issues that vary from social isolation to physical health. Within these categories, subcategories of problems are caused, leading to strained relationships, emotional issues, and cognitive issues & risk to physical safety.

While all these issues affect Older Adults equally, we noticed that most of the physical and tangible issues are already aided by a variety of outlets such as hearing aids & technology; those of the emotional and mental capacity however are acknowledged less.

A mind map of our secondary research on the effects of age-related hearing loss

One in three people between the ages of 65 and 74 have hearing loss and nearly half of those older than 75 have difficulty hearing.

- National Institue of Aging (NIA)

Primary Research


  • To discover emotional hindrances of OA’s with hearing loss

  • To better understand alternative ways of communications

  • To learn the impact of hearing loss on their personal relationships

Research methods

14 user interviews

06 contextual inquiries

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08 cultural probes

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Affinitization of data