Presented by: Sennheiser

#Visitor guidance & assistive listening

Interview Jakub Kolacz, Product Owner of MobileConnect

Lived inclusion in universities: New design for MobileConnect (Interview)

In academic education, nothing can ever replace the inspiring lecture of a brilliant mind. But how would you feel if all this content and emotion fell silent because you couldn't hear it? MobileConnect delivers high resolution sound to your ears - on your own smartphone.

The development team at Sennheiser Streaming Technologies in Hamburg has been working on new features over the past few months to give users an improved user experience. Today Jakub Kolacz, Product Owner of MobileConnect at Sennheiser Streaming Technologies in Hamburg, answers five questions about the MobileConnect streaming solution.

Lived inclusion in universities: New design for MobileConnect (Interview)

What is MobileConnect?
Sennheiser MobileConnect is our Assistive Listening solution for live audio scenarios, meaning wherever people speak live. The spoken word is streamed to the hearing impaired person's own smartphone. This happens almost in real time and with the superior audio quality Sennheiser products are known for.

It does not matter where in the room the hearing-impaired person is as long as there is a WiFi connection. With this combination of location-independent Assistive Listening and the use of the personal smartphone, Sennheiser MobileConnect goes one step further and enables not only integration, but true inclusion of the hearing impaired.

How does MobileConnect work?
The MobileConnect Station converts the audio signal from the speaker's microphone into digital audio packages. These are transmitted to the hearing impaired person's smartphone via the in-house WiFi network. To receive the audio stream, students simply download the free MobileConnect app for iOS or Android and connect to the university's WiFi. The stream can simply be started in the app and used with normal headphones or directly with a hearing aid.

What advantages does MobileConnect hold for the user?
The Bring-Your-Own-Device concept brings enormous advantages for the user. By using the own smartphone, a familiar device, the user needs little time to adapt to the system. It also guarantees high compatibility with all hearing aids and headphones that users usually use with their smartphone.

In addition, the system can be used anonymously without having to sit in a dedicated area or with an additional noticeable device. Users can simply fit in without having to feel the restrictions of their hearing loss. This is real inclusion.

The MobileConnect system is designed to use the university's existing network to distribute the spoken word. This, and the use of the users' mobile devices as receivers, reduces maintenance and costs for operators to a minimum. For the hearing impaired users the service is free of course.

Why was the App design changed?
The new app offers improved audio handling and stream stability while simultaneously maintaining low latency. It also features a new, updated look and feel and significantly improved usability. The user can now also choose between a dark and a light mode, which is particularly advantageous for people with visual impairments. Of course, the app is also designed with voice-over captions.

The core function of the app, the Personal Hearing Assistant, is now placed more clearly displayed and more centrally in the player and does not need to be activated by the user initially. The newly integrated QR code scanner makes channel selection easier. This is important to be able to start the stream immediately. The digital natives are quickly frustrated if they can't get started immediately.

The completely revised and redesigned MobileConnect App 5.0.0 will be available in Google and Apple App Stores this fall.

Can you give us an outlook on the future of MobileConnect?
Our goal is for MobileConnect to establish itself as the standard Assistive Listening solution. The enormous added value we create for hearing impaired people and universities is the foundation for that. Our next goal is to ensure that the system can be integrated campus-wide. We will also be able to support modern lecture halls using DANTE in the future. The aim is that hearing impaired students should be able to expect that our Assistive Listening solution will be available in every lecture hall in the future.

Many thanks Jakub for your time and for the conversation!

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