In-Ear Communication Device


Ground-breaking in-ear monitoring device transforming healthcare delivery

EarSwitch | Designing a hi-tech wearable device | Industrial Design | Human-centred Design, Prototyping & Testing, Manufacturing Consultancy
Transforming the future of healthcare through inclusive, non-intrusive hi-tech wearables.

The Journey

UK GP, Dr Nick Gompertz, set up EarSwitch to develop an ear controlled wearable product that would help people with neurological conditions such as motor neurone disease (MND) to communicate.

They approached us to design the in-ear monitoring device, that would allow people to interact with a computer by using an earpiece that sits inside the ear canal, monitoring tiny muscle movement and translating it as a mouse click.

The Result? A revolutionary assistive communication device capable of adapting to individual user needs.

The Design Challenge

It was vital we had a deep understanding of the challenges faced by people living with neurological impairments, to ensure we designed a product that suited their needs and environment. Following extensive research and interviews, we distilled our insight into a set of guidelines to steer our design decisions.

Designing the earpiece was technically challenging. A thorough understanding of the internal ear canal geometry, camera requirements and its technical limitations was essential; plus fitting electronic sensors safely into a tiny device, without risk of overheating was vital. In overcoming the challenges, we also designed with manufacturing in mind, overseeing a short run of products whilst maintaining the level of precision and quality required to work in the field.

Image: Jonathan Bryan, our client’s inspiration behind designing EarSwitch. Photo Credit: Tom Pilston

Our Design Solutions

They needed an agile, multi-disciplinary design team to partner with on this technically challenging project. We worked collaboratively with many stakeholders, including our colleagues at The Product Partnership, to ensure the high tech project was supported from initial concept, electronic & UX design and prototyping, through to low-volume manufacture, achieving medical compliance for the trials.

Looking ahead, we will be using the lessons learnt from clinical trails to continue to upgrade the device into its second iteration – so keep a look out later this year for more updates! EarSwitch are delighted with the end result, winning numerous innovation awards.

Our innovative earpiece was intended purely as a communications device, however there is huge potential for integrating in-ear technology into wearables, to record real-world data and change the lives of people with both assistive and personal health needs, which is really exciting!

“Having a trusted partner as a Start-up makes a massive difference; and Realise provided exactly that. They have been nothing but exemplary in their approach, dedicated, responsive and providing amazing design work, where even the first concept design exceeded our expectations. EarSwitch has certainly gained from Realise’s involvement, who have really felt like part of our team.”

Dr Nick Gompertz, Founder of EarSwitch

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