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Bēhance

  • This was my major project at University. The aim was to research and design an inclusive internet radio based on the needs of visually impaired people. Over the course of 8 months I interviewed, analysed, brainstormed, tested, explored, went a little insane and then came to a final solution called "iO". A two part radio made from ceramic.
  • iO had one main principle which was to split the primary and secondary controls. This was based on the understanding that for visually impaired users, after the first set up of the radio, they would rarely change their settings. So removing the excess buttons that were rarely used left only 3 primary functions: Preset stations, volume and mute, which were all controlled from the satellite unit.
  • A provisional model of consumer experience (adapted from Blythe et al 2004)

  • Designing for people instead of “consumers” is an important aspect to this project. The aim is for the radio designed to be usable and as a consequence of this, enjoyable. This could be done in 3 parts, through social (it encourages people to interact together, to involve the user), sensation (through materials and form) and challenging aspects of the design (using a different style of interaction to create a memory with the user).
  • Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs for people with visual impairments and Internet radio.
  • Creating a pleasurable product requires the designer to consider the use of a device holistically, taking into consideration the personality and capabilities of the person using it. I created my own hierarchy of needs based on Maslow's as a starting point.
  • As a starting point, I asked some friends to carry out a task analysis on some existing radios to see what was good and bad. I was a little unfair... I made them close their eyes for this so they relied on touch and feedback alone. 
  • After doing a lot of observations and thinking, I tried to lay out different types of actions that people might take when using a product so that I could think how these actions could be used for intuitive interaction.
  • This was my first prototype of the design, based on the clock face with two arms.
  • After some quick work with ProEngineer and the CNC machine, the second version was produced, which I was able to take along (with several other concepts) to a visually impaired volunteer who had been talking with me throughout the project. 
  • He liked the idea!
  • I wanted the use of materials in the product to help create a positive feeling towards the product. With the help of a very nice model maker called Andy, I made a materials cube, each side had a concave and convex bump, and sharp and curved edges, and each side had a different material, from wood and metal to polished plastic and soft fabric. This helped me with the selection of the final materials.
  • I wanted the satellite unit to be made from ceramics, which would improve the sound and give a great visceral appeal when holding the product due to its cool touch and heaviness. To do this, I learnt how to do slip casting that I could place the other working parts into for the final prototype. 
  • The final prototype model made from ceramic.
  • The satellite unit would charge through induction on the base unit. The base unit housed other features such as searching, storing favourites and 4-way navigation using a joystick.