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Student invents music visualizer for the hearing impaired

Posted at 3:44 PM, Aug 17, 2020

Listening to music, whether it's classical, hip hop or pop, is a hobby many of us take for granted. As one Ohio teenager realized, for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, enjoying music isn't that easy.

"My invention was taking music, create a music visualizer that could take a musical input and develop an intuitive visualization to convey all the emotions that music does convey, for the deaf and hearing-impaired to really connect with music," said Aaron Ziegler, an 11th grader who took home the Technology Award at the virtual Ohio Invention Convention for his invention this year.

Ziegler got the idea for his music visualizer after working at a summer camp that helped children with special needs connect with their emotions through music. He realized he wanted to give those who are deaf or hearing impaired an emotional connection with music.

"The computer reads the entire song and figures out the attributes and what to take out. It then goes through behind the scenes and codes, which converts to the color display and then which outputs," said Ziegler.

The hope is to convey the emotions of music with pictures and colors.

"Current music visualizers, at least the ones that are accessible today, are rather inadequate in terms of conveying the full emotions. A lot of them are really a rhythmic thing and not really inclusive to their emotions," said Ziegler.

Ohio Invention League's representative, who goes by Professor Prototype, hopes Aaron Ziegler's invention inspires other young inventors.

"I think one of the things that young people see when they learn about Aaron’s project is the power that he had to solve a problem that was important to him,” she said. “That they all have the power to look around the world and say, ‘How can I make the world a better place? How can I help other people?’"

The Invention Convention is free for any student or school to participate and kids can still tap into their creative ideas for inventions and participate virtually.

"While they can be the advanced technical solutions like Aaron's, which is a wonderful union of stem skills and problem-solving, there's also lots of different ways to solve a problem and sometimes that involves the stuff you have in your garage," said Professor Prototype.

'It's really easy to do this stuff. All I had was a laptop and a WiFi connection,” said Ziegler. “I handled 90 percent of what I was doing, and you don't even need that. You can use cardboard and stuff, so I want to make sure people remember that really anything you think you can need, you can do it.”

Ziegler's win earned him a college savings award. He'll go on to compete in the Invention Convention US Nationals next year.