AREA 23, AN FCB COMPANY, New York / MILITARY WITH PTSD / 2017
We created headphones with proprietary software that transforms the sounds of fireworks explosions into calming and reassuring statements. Since PTSD is an overly isolating condition, only cancelling the sounds would only further isolate these patients. We conducted a large quantitative survey and learned that reassuring statements were the preferred sounds to replace the fireworks explosions.
The reassuring statements were recorded by members of the public at www.thespeakingfireworks.com, and then synchronized through the headphones to match the intensity of the firework explosions — so the most intense and heartfelt messages match the biggest fireworks, giving the veterans an immersive therapeutic augmented sound experience.
We launched thespeakingfireworks.com in March 2016 so we could gather recordings from people all around the country who wanted to thank veterans for their service. We worked with a leading technology company to develop the proprietary headphones and software that converts the sound of fireworks in real-time. We uploaded selected statements of gratitude – all recorded on thespeakingfireworks.com – to the headphones. The unique algorithm in the headphones recognizes the sound of fireworks and modulates these statements of gratitude to match the duration and decibels of the explosions in real-time. The best way to describe the experience is like watching fireworks that praise and thank you, instead of producing pops, bangs and other loud explosions. On July 4, 2016, we tested the first batch of twelve prototypes during a fireworks show attended by a large group of veterans at a waterfront park in Yonkers, NY.
The experience was thrilling and emotional for the group of men and women who were a part of the first product trial. Shortly after the 4th of July, we posted a pre-order form on our website to collect information from people interested in using the headphones during future fireworks shows. The response was massive – over 500 veterans filled out the forms during the first week. Feedback from prominent media outlets was widespread, including coverage from CNN, MSNBC and industry media publications like Creativity who called The Speaking Fireworks “…an incredibly innovative idea…” We are currently in the process of pushing out a large crowd-funding initiative through Global Giving to help initiate a large-scale production for July 4, 2017. Our goal is to make these headphones available to all combat veterans who could benefit from them at no cost to them.