Molly Oretsky: How an American company is trying to create wearable products for deaf people

Posted on November 21, 2016

Olive Devices, an assistive technology start-up, is creating is a wearable product that aims to caption voices and locate sounds in a classroom, a workplace, or an event space. Here Molly Oretsky tells us more:

When Olive Devices founder Renee Kakareka was 7 years old, she started learning sign language. As a child she aspired to be an interpreter or a Speech and Language Pathologist (SLP).

Going into industrial design, she didn’t know what was ahead but after reading the book Design Meets Disabilities  by Graham Pullin, she knew designing assistive technology was her calling. Fate came full circle when she had the opportunity to work with a deaf client in designing an assistive device.

Here’s a subtitled video featuring Renee:

Nearly two years ago, after getting feedback from old friends that were deaf or hard of hearing, SLP’s or Deaf Educators, Kakareka set in motion her mission to create a product to simplify new technology to help enhance people’s lives.

“I started the product by researching new innovative technology that could potential help my client’s problems and had not yet found its purpose,” Kakareka said. “When speaking to my friend that is a speech and language pathologist we discussed ideas behind how smart glass technology could have been used to assist in deaf and hard of hearing communication.”


Her company is focused on designing and developing an IOT solution to assist in learning and communication for deaf and hard of hearing people. From glasses with captions on the lenses to a downloadable captions app, they are exploring as many avenues as they can to find the best way to implement caption and sound localization technology.

Creating a community of positivity and change is another objective of Olive Devices, aside from developing products. Every week they post articles on their blog related to different themes.

They have also reached out to many schools to hear what they have to say about implementing assistive technology for deaf and hard of hearing in the classroom. Solutions can help children in classroom settings, arguably the most important location of their development, adults at work, or anyone visiting a public presentation such as a theatrical play, conference, or museum tour.

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Posted in: Molly Oretsky