Art and Design Research Centre
Designing and making physical research tools as a communicative link with end users to develop understanding of their needs
The tactile sounds system is a versatile modular vibro-acoustic furniture system that can be used by users with sensory impairment to explore the world of meaningful sounds through vibration in therapeutic, educational and recreational environments.
The project highlights the value of designing and 'making' physical research tools as a communicative link with end users to develop understanding of their needs.
Much of the current design methodologies are based on user-centred activities, this project involved a group of end-users who in the main were deaf and blind. Communication in the normal sense was often impossible and the designer-client relationship presented itself in an extreme case. As designers we had to be creative in establishing the needs of the user and evaluating the success of the product solutions.
Significantly the early prototypes that emerged from the project became the communication tools, using touch, through vibration as a means to establish user preference and help establish programmes for use. Key to the success of project was the collaborative development with clinicians, teachers, technologists and musicians.
The research resulted in product outcomes that were subsequently adopted by Rompa Ltd and was awarded a Millennium product Design Award by the Design Council UK.
Professor Paul Chamberlain - Design Director Lab4living and Head of Art and Design Research Centre