Hyundai has come to the aid of hearing-impaired drivers.

The company has created a means of communicating both internal and external sounds through tactile and visual means, to expand freedom of mobility to all drivers regardless of physical limitations.

The technology uses artificial intelligence to analyse external sound patterns and employs two separate driving assist systems that work in tandem — Audio-Visual Conversion (AVC) and Audio-Tactile Conversion (ATC) — to help hearing-impaired drivers who have an acute, highly developed sense of touch and attuned visual capabilities.

The AVC allows for safer driving, by enabling communication with the external environment through visual portrayals of sound patterns, such as warning sounds of emergency vehicles, as pictograms on the head-up display (HUD).

The steering wheel is also equipped with multi-coloured LEDs which indicate navigational information while driving.

The ATC transfers the sound data into vibrations through the steering wheel, notifying the driver of information about external environments such as distance from obstacles.

Seoul’s first ever, designated hearing-impaired taxi driver, Daeho Lee, has been selected to showcase the driving assist technology.

Mr Lee is a hearing-impaired father of two who recently began a new career as a taxi driver, but had difficulties with hearing and had to rely mainly on sight.

Problems arose because he could not hear the horns or sirens of surrounding vehicles.

He also needed to constantly rely on his vision, which caused fatigue at a rate many times greater than that of the average driver.

A campaign video, along with the technology itself, emphasises the value of ‘freedom of mobility,’ demonstrating Hyundai’s efforts to enable the hearing-impaired to drive freely and safely using state-of-the-art innovative developments.

As part of its goal, Hyundai has also developed an application that enables communication between passengers and drivers who are hearing-impaired.

A video called the ‘Quiet Taxi’ chronicles the process.

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Riley

Chris Riley has been a journalist for almost 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.