Fujitsu Offers Free Access to ‘Ontenna’ Educational Solutions for Deaf Students

TOKYO, Dec 11, 2020 – (JCN Newswire) – Fujitsu has announced that it will offer free educational programming modules for its “Ontenna” device for students that are deaf or hard of hearing. Ontenna is a unique device that allows users to sense sounds with their bodies. Fujitsu will offer an educational solution utilizing the device to schools for deaf students and other educational institutions free of charge across Japan from December 11, 2020.

Photo 1: “Ontenna” image

Since June 2019, Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) has been providing free trial versions of Fujitsu’s Ontenna device to slightly more than 70% of schools for those with limited hearing nationwide. This initiative represents part of MEXT’s efforts to leverage technology to contribute to the improvement of students’ educational environments and realize its goal of “fair, individualized learning that leaves no one behind.” The trial version of Ontenna is now widely used in speech classes and for rhythm and music exercises in schools for the deaf and hard of hearing.

This latest move promises to further advance efforts to achieve this goal, and the Ontenna educational programming modules will be made available free of charge, allowing children to use the program to customize the vibration and light-based feedback of their Ontenna to react to sounds they want to experience. This will provide children with opportunities to learn programming and contribute to the development of a new generation of technologically literate young people who will play a leading role in shaping our digital future society.

The newly developed Ontenna educational programming modules were created in cooperation with the following research subject: “Design and Deployment of a xDiversity AI platform for Audio-Visual-Tactile Communication towards an inclusive society (Research Representative: “xDiversity(1)” Yoichi Ochiai)” in the research area “Development and Integration of Artificial Intelligence Technologies for Innovation Acceleration” of Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST)’s Strategic Basic Research Program, Core Research for Evolutional Science and Technology (CREST) .

Background

Ontenna is a user interface that converts and transmits the volume of different noises to vibration and light in real time. Users can apply it to their hair, earlobes, collars, or armpits to perceive the characteristics of sound, including as rhythm, patterns, and volume. Ontenna has been provided since August 2019 for the purpose of allowing deaf people the ability to experience sound through demonstrations in a variety of environments, including in the classroom, sporting events, concerts, and tap dancing, as well as through collaborative research with deaf people.

Fujitsu is now offering an educational solution free of charge that combines programming functions and teaching materials with the Ontenna device, which is already widely used in schools for the deaf. Through programming, users can customize the Ontenna device’s vibration and light patterns for the volume and intensity of the sound they want to feel. Fujitsu will additionally provide educational guidance plans, class slides, and worksheets to educators to support the use of the new materials in classes, aiming to spread programming education to schools for students that are deaf or hard of hearing and other schools throughout Japan.

(1) xDiversity
“Cross Diversity”. Activity led by Yoichi Ochiai as part of CREST’s research project

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