Mute SOS

An app that enables the simplest police-calling and emergency signaling so that people with an inability to hear or speak alike can contact the police or signal for help in the quickest and simplest way possible.

/ What inspired me?

A few days ago I read a news story. A mom and her three children lost lives in a fire disaster. The mother had called the fire station 3 times. However, due to the loud on-site noise, the operator could not hear their specific location clearly. Thus, the prime time for a rescue was missed.

This prompted some questions in my mind: there will be a lot screaming and yelling on the disaster scene. What should we do to make sure that information was passed effectively? How could the hearing-impaired, or the able-bodied unable to talk because of the somke, phone the police or signal for help? Hence I decided to work out an embedded app that allows all mobile users to reach out for help during emergency situations in a more efficient and accurate way than existing systems did.

Time Line

  • 05:04 a.m. The mother called fire station 3 times.

  • 05:23 a.m. The fireman arrived but did not break into the room.

  • 05:12 a.m. The mother called her neighbor for help. 

  • 05:30 a.m. Her neighbor called back but no one answered.

  • 05:40 a.m. More fireman arrived, but still, they did not break into the room.

  • 05:53 a.m. Fireman got into the room, was told that no one is in there. 

  • 07:00 a.m. Four dead were found in the bedroom.

/ What is the possible scenario?

Can not phone the police

Hearing-impaired users

• Can not make phone calls in any situation.

Do not want to be noticed

• Do not know the specific location
• Have an accent
• Too tense to describe the situation
• Can not hear clearly in noisy environment

Do not want to be noticed

• Robbery, indecency crime on the buses
• Places like casino or brothel
• False imprisonment and kidnapping

Need to attract other’s attention

Can neither call or type

Need to notice everyone or seek for help

Hearing-impaired users

Have no time

• Being attcked at night
• Fire or earthquake

• Catch other’s attention and send signals

• When emergency happened, sometimes users have little time to call for help or send messages

Can only make phone calls

*Already solved. Users could use Siri or Google Assistant to make phone calles.

/ Curren situation

Ways to seek for help

The reading ability of hearing-impaired people




Emergency team

Live Saving

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Hearing-impaired people have lower reading rate than others.

-- Azbel, L. (2004) How do the deaf read? The paradox of performing a phonemic task without sound. Intel Science Talent Search.

Probability of successful police-calling

Shanghai police's emergency hot line 110 received 13.97 million calls in 2016-an average of 38 thousand calls daily. It is a significant amount of work.

The police had handled 13.97 million cases, among which 65% of them were invalid.

About one fifth of calls are not urgent, and those phone calls compete with pressing calls for the resources and services available 

-- Yan. L. (2017, January 01). Shanghai police: people should reduce 110 calls. Society. Retrieved April 18, 2018,

Citizens in Shanghai could also send message to the police and seek for helpl. However, most of the message reports are invalid information.

/ Product references

Call In Emergency

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Rescue me

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• Provide multiple emergency service solutions.
• Add emergency contacts and send SOS information on critical moments.
• Find surrounding police stations, hospitals and charging piles.

• Call “911” or “112” for help under emergency.
• Send sound recordings to the police and keep them as evidences for the future.


• Contact relatives, friends, police, and hospital or call the vehicle maintenance hotline.
• Import the friends’ list from Gmail and Skype.
• Seek help from multiple persons by a single click.

• Automatically send sound recordings.
• Easy to operate.


• Too many functions, making it hard to choose the target function under emergency. 

• Complexity and a large amount of information. 
• To send the SOS message requires manual information editing, which is time-consuming and complex.


First Help

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Help me

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• Send the position information to the police/ ambulance/ car service.

• Ask for help, such as blood donation, under non-emergency.
• Provide rescue information exchange as an information platform.

• The SOS button is obvious.
• Ask for help from surrounding users of this app.


• Clear classification of functions.
• Checking of specific information.


• How to dial: It will be triggered when the mobile phone drop to the ground, and it might be wrongly triggered.

• Complex operation: Press for a long or short time.
• Users need to check the map to get information about the nearest service.

/ What do the end user think?
/ Information integration
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After interviewing 18 people who have experienced emergency, I synthesized the entire process of emergency handling, from the occurrence of emergency, to the solutions, to their subsequent reactions, and identified factors deterring users from contacting the police. First, users need to overcome daunting psychological challenges to go through the complex, cumbersome procedures of police calling. Second, in specific situations, they might fear of possible retaliation if found to be the caller. Therefore, an ideal app should be able to facilitate a quick, logic description of the cases by helping organizing their ideas while ensuring privacy throughout the process, namely, not producing suspicious sounds.

/ Mind map

I categorized the methods they use to seek help during emergency situations and explored deeper causes. At the end of the mind map I created, I analyzed whether they were able to use phones, the status when they use phones, as well as the duration of use. Then I proposed three ways to activate Mute SOS immediately: long-press the “SOS” button to directly send a message to the police, press the “SOS” button to enter the page for filling information, and press the power button quickly for 5 times to send a message asking for help.

/ Who is end user?

The hearing-impaired, or the able-bodied unable to talk for the time being who encounter the emergency.

/ My design proposal

It is my wish to provide an app that enables the simplest police-calling and emergency signaling so that people with an inability to hear or speak alike can contact the police or signal for help in the quickest and simplest way possible.

/ Logo design

The International Morse code distress signal

Final design

/ Information Structure
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/ User flow
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