Integrating technology into classrooms has been on the rise the last few years. Students have access to laptops, tablets, and smartboards to help assist their learning experience. All of these devices have certainly helped the visual aspect in the classroom, but one woman has tackled the challenges facing students with hearing disabilities. Renee Kakareka, a recent graduate of Philadelphia University, launched Olive Devices to start getting help for those in the classroom who need it. Olive Devices’ goal is to develop technology that students will be able to conveniently use in the classroom. In a brief overview, the student with a hearing disability will be able to clip on a small microphone and connect, via bluetooth, to their smart device. The microphone will pick up on sounds around the student, take the sounds and translate it into a visible text right on the device. The student will be able to not only ready the words being spoken around them, but also be told which direction it is coming from.


Au’Loni had the chance to interview Renee and receive more insight into what Olive Devices is all about and how Renee took this idea and turned it into a reality. To begin with, Renee describes the purpose of the company as “To develop assistive technologies for people with disabilities.” These technologies include a microphone that will be able to hone in on specific sound and speech patterns and tell you where it is coming from, or sound localization, and a program that is able to receive those sounds and present it as text to the student. Renee came up with the idea for the company while she had been working with deaf students and had friends who had struggled due to hearing disabilities. She had learned sign language at the age of seven and made it easier for her to communicate, but she knew there had to be another, better, way to learn in the classroom. Renee chose the name Olive Devices centered around the idea of the olive branch being a sign of peace and a helping hand to others, which is exactly what she aims for her company to be.


The company is currently fine tuning their development of sound localization and hope to have a beta testing of their product out by early 2017 and an aimed release date of Fall 2017. The company, which started as a simple idea back in December 2015, has grown so much in just less than a year and received numerous awards, grants, and backings since then, including Jefferson University Grant, Montgomery County College Grant, competitions in Philadelphia University, and private funding from BioAdvance. As a recent graduate in Industrial Design, Renee has made quite the name for herself and has set forward a path to helping students grow and learn with more ease in the classroom setting.


For more information on Olive Devices you can visit their website at: