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An enterprise to hear the beats

A GISBORNE Girls’ High School group has come up with a way for the hearing-impaired to experience music. After a seven-year hiatus, the Young Enterprise Scheme YES, is back operating in Gisborne.

YES is a year-long business learning opportunity for high school students run via the Gisborne Chamber of Commerce.

Groups must come up with a product, make prototypes, produce it, fund it and attempt to sell it to "The Dragons” — a panel of television show Dragon’s Den-style judges, who travel around schools taking part in the YES, to assess each group.

One group that believes it is on to a winner, is Gisborne Girls’ High School group Tympanum — Fern Stuart, Hannah Scholefield, Anna Hyland, Lucy Anderson, Fritha Rau and Laurel Mitchell.

They have come up with a concept to create a speaker plug-in that translates music bass and beats into a handheld device that vibrates along with the music.

Laurel says the device would essentially allow deaf people to have the sensation of music through bass and vibration.

“My mum is a social worker with the elderly and she is always telling me about how there is not enough for them to do and they are kind of limited with things like hearing loss.

"Then I saw something about a girl who is deaf and would stand right by the speakers at concerts to feel the vibrations and experience the music.”

Fellow group member Lucy says the idea came to them through a bit of research too.

“We had a look online and realised there were lots of things to help the hearing- impaired, but nothing that was purely recreational.”

The YES involves nearly all aspects of a business — opening a bank account, seed-funding, surveying and researching the market for a product.

Students must give 25 percent of their profits back to the community but are free to keep the rest.

As part of their project, the girls surveyed elderly at a few retirement villages around town to see what they thought of the idea. Fritha says some were very helpful.

As part of YES, the girls are set up with mentors via the Gisborne Chamber of Commerce too.

Fritha has been busy experimenting with a prototype after a previous mentor told them a transducer would be crucial to their design.

A transducer is an electronic device that converts energy from one form to another — essentially what will help convert the music beats and bass into vibrations.

“My mum thought I was a bit weird going off to my room with a transducer, an old alarm clock and a tool box — that’s for sure.”

One mentor they have been connected with is SamsonIT owner operator Jonathan Samson.

“The idea is brilliant. I think there are so many things we take for granted and to create something to increase the experience of the deaf is awesome.”

At the moment the girls say they have a rough idea of how to put their device together but only with a cord. They want it to be wireless.

They are generating funds through tried and true methods like sausage sizzles to buy the parts they need. Hopefully they can have a prototype ready before the dragons arrive, says Lucy.

“YES is such an awesome opportunity we are lucky to have — you get all the experience without the risk of a real business.

“We are just hoping the dragons give us at least a week’s notice before they show up.”

MUSIC FOR EVERYONE: Three of Gisborne Girls' High School Young Enterprise Scheme group Tympanum from left Lucy Anderson, Fritha Rau and Laurel Mitchell. The girls have come up with an idea that allows the hearing impaired to experience music. Picture by Liam Clayton