Page last updated at 15:13 GMT, Tuesday, 11 May 2010 16:13 UK

Giant speech bubble bid to combat pub noise

Students using the social spheres
The spheres aim to allow people to hear each other more clearly in a busy pub

Speech bubbles which could provide the answer for people who want to make their voice heard in noisy pubs and clubs are set to go on display.

Product design student Elaine McLuskey invented the "social spheres" to enable people to hold a conversation above the background noise.

The 23-year-old came up with the idea after she studied hearing impairments.

They will go on show at Edinburgh Napier University's School of Arts and Creative Industries Degree Show.

Miss McLuskey, from Coatbridge, came up with two designs for the globes.

One is a stationary table top version, which joins pairs or groups of revellers.

The other is a mobile version, which looks like a space helmet for people to wear and "connect" with other users.

Table bubble
McLuskey has also invented a stationary version of the sphere

Miss McLuskey said: "My research found that in some cases a person's environment can be more disabling than a hearing impairment and so, in some respects, we are all hearing impaired on a daily basis.

"The obvious example is that frustrating situation of trying to catch up with a friend in a busy bar. You want to hear their news and have a proper chat, but you have to shout over the din of music, chatter and clinking glasses.

"I hope the very noticeable and eccentric appearance starts people talking about hearing impairments."

Richard Firth, head of product design at Edinburgh Napier University, said: "What's really interesting about Elaine's design is how she has researched and developed the thought-provoking concept of a hearing impairment and applied it to a person's everyday environment."

Other designs which will be on show from 13 to 23 May include a sensory table, flat pack lights, a dinosaur which monitors the amount of time children spend on their computer and a bottle which can be split into a beer and wine glass.

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