title: Play and Feel – concept, proof of concept
keywords: sound, interaction, telepresence, tactility, playfulness, deaf-blindness, user-centered design, user experience
As my admission assignment for the Kolding School of Design I worked on a re-design concept of Telecarpets, calling it by the more explanatory title Play and Feel.
The PDF documentation of process is to be found here.
Re-designing and re-purposing the interactive telepresence piece Telecarpets for congenital deaf blind users.
Designing musical and (generally) audiovisual interactive experiences for the congenital deaf blind is associated with a series of challenges. When hearing and sight is not present tactile communication gains great importance as the main communication language with the user. When designing for this target group [primarily for potential institutionalized users of the age 16-30] the experience wished for is very much dependent on the tactile modality. When mentioning target group it is understood as both the deaf blind individuals, the local community and the relationships among the primarily target group and caregivers, family members and other groups in need of communicating with the users – such as e.g. teachers. Also the aspect of in-between communication of the deaf blind individuals in the community is in focus. Social interaction is not only crucial for these people living an otherwise quite isolated way of existence, but also a route to exploration, change of information and entertainment. These users require help for most of their activities – and in the everyday race of institutions togetherness is often a lack, as well as the experience of play and playfulness when exploring or simply 'filling time gaps' between two obligatory activities (e.g. meals, medication and bathing). My design proposal focuses on some of the unitilised potentials of the already existing design – based on relevant knowledge about the target group, moreover research and experiments optimizing the interactive and overall user experience.
From a user and design professional standpoint I am aiming for:
. inviting aesthetics to interact / play
. optimizing user interface
. optimizing tactile properties and communication via tactile information in forms of a multi-sensory experience
. clarification of communication channels
. finding answers for the following question (wicked problem):
. How to design a musical social interaction platform for youngster congenital deafblind users with multiple disabilities?
Purpose and Motivation
The choice of this specific project and theme has an origin in both professional (described above and in the assignment slides) and personal curiosity and interest. My personal motivation is based upon own experiences of my working relations with congenital deaf blind youngsters of the age 18-30. Most of my observations and recordings are sources of these sections. Getting to know this typical community, their context, language and approach to life is a deep inspiration – also in a professional manner. The already mentioned design challenges have gained more and more importance over the time spent together the deaf blind individuals and in their environment. Following their activities and recording their behaviors is a fruitful motivation to translate and apply these in a professional design project. Focusing on sense integration, social interaction and playful elements are a must when working with this particular group, in spite of the obstacles that it brings in one's way.
The project is meant to achieve to display results of various explorations and prototyping experiments that assist the understanding of the design challenge in question and enable further enhancements for future work. Also it layouts a brief strategy for user tests with the primarily target group.
Methods // Phases of Project
A) What is my challenge here? How do I approach it?:
1) Understanding challenge – problem area(s)
2) Preparing research
3) Inspirations – from related designs, theories, materials, fabrication techniques, technology etc
B) Moving further to idea generation and reframing: What have I learned? How do I design?
C) Experimentation: How does it work and how does it feel? Understanding user experiences via sampling the project (studies in materials, technological potentials and experiments, etc)
D) How to implement?
2) Getting feedback – Strategy for user tests; Aiming for realistic context and use.