Empathy is defined as: “the psychological identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.” More simply put, it is being able to put yourself in the shoes of another. Empathy is so important to who we are as people. Without it, humanity would me much crueler than it is. If we were all rational and self-interested, empathy and kindness would not exist. Luckily, most of humanity is not like that. In fact, children as young as one year old exhibit signs of empathy, which should illustrate how central it is to us as humans.
You might be wondering what this has to do with Olive Devices. That’s a good question! Empathy is also one of the most important elements of design, and is core to the mission of this company. As Tim Brown, the CEO of the legendary design and consulting firm IDEO said, “Without the understanding of what others see, feel, and experience, design is a pointless task…empathy can be truly inspirational”.
This company started as a design project in which Renee was paired with a deaf client. While working with this client she learned about the ups and downs of life as a deaf person, and she also learned how Google Glass could help people with hearing loss like her client. Without putting herself in the shoes of a deaf person, and trying to experience the world from her perspective, Olive Devices would not be here. This philosophy is also why we do all the outreach and research that we do, and why our upcoming focus groups are so incredibly important to us. If we cannot put ourselves in the shoes of deaf people, how can we make a product that is useful to anyone?
Empathy is at the heart of what we do here at Olive Devices. It is crucial to our progress as a company, as well as our progress as a society. To move forward in the world, we truly must keep our hearts and minds open to everyone around us.