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  7. Fujitsu Offers Free Access to "Ontenna" Educational Solutions for Deaf Students

Fujitsu Offers Free Access to "Ontenna" Educational Solutions for Deaf Students

Fujitsu Limited

Tokyo, December 11, 2020

Fujitsu today 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.

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) .

Photo 1:"Ontenna" imagePhoto 1:"Ontenna" image

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.

Overview of the Ontenna Programming Education Solution

1. Programing Function

Fujitsu will provide a programming function for Ontenna utilizing the visual programming gauge tool "Scratch" (2), which is used to teach beginner level programming in the schools all over the world. By programming the vibration strength and light color of Ontenna to adjust to the volume and intensity of the sound the user wants to feel, it's possible to customize the device, for instance by making it vibrate three times when loud sounds are heard or make the device glow red when it detects a soft sound.

Photo 2: Beginners can easily program "Scratch"Photo 2: Beginners can easily program "Scratch"

Photo 3: Programming scenePhoto 3: Programming scene

2. Educational material

In cooperation with teachers at schools for students that are deaf or hard of hearing, Fujitsu has created the following teaching materials for programming.

  1. Target class

    Hours for comprehensive studies

  2. Target grade

    The guidelines were compiled based on instructions given to fourth graders in elementary school. However, it is possible to instruct students from grades 3 to 6.

  3. Contents
    • Educational Guidance Plan: Programming Class Guidance Plan for Instructors
    • Classroom Slides: Projection Materials for Programming Class
    • Worksheet: Handout for Programming Learning
    • User's Manual: Basic Operations of Programming Functions

Photo 4: Ideas from the students for OntennaPhoto 4: Ideas from the students for Ontenna

Photo 5: Students demonstrating their new Ontenna programsPhoto 5: Students demonstrating their new Ontenna programs

3. Future Plans

Fujitsu will initially introduce the devices to schools for deaf students before expanding to other educational institutions. Additionally, using machine learning, Fujitsu aims to further enhance the Ontenna to respond to specific sounds, including things like a chiming bell or crying babies.

Demo units for "Ontenna" programming education solution

To coincide with the launch of the educational programming modules, Fujitsu will provide 10 Ontenna units free of charge for one month as a standard for schools and educators in Japan interested in programming education using the Ontenna after completing a questionnaire.

Related Links

「Ontenna」


  • [1] xDiversity

    "Cross Diversity". Activity led by Yoichi Ochiai as part of CREST’s research project

  • [2] Scratch

    A free educational programming language and development environment developed by the Scratch Foundation in collaboration with the MIT Media Lab Lifelong Kindergarten Group. Its main target audience is 8 ~ 16 years old and it is used worldwide as a programming tool for beginners.

About Fujitsu

Fujitsu is the leading Japanese information and communication technology (ICT) company offering a full range of technology products, solutions and services. Approximately 130,000 Fujitsu people support customers in more than 100 countries. We use our experience and the power of ICT to shape the future of society with our customers. Fujitsu Limited (TSE:6702) reported consolidated revenues of 3.9 trillion yen (US$35 billion) for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2020. For more information, please see www.fujitsu.com.

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All company or product names mentioned herein are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners. Information provided in this press release is accurate at time of publication and is subject to change without advance notice.

Date: 11 December, 2020
City: Tokyo
Company: Fujitsu Limited