1) I want my Final Project to ….
Show my skills as an interaction designer that understands how to approach a complicated problem space and deliver a original, inspiring and appropriate solution. I hate “faking” interactions, so I want to build something that is 100% functional which the user group would actually want to use.
I want my final project to build upon, challenge and display my skills within rapid prototyping, programming, sound design and user-centred design. The project should help me get a job as an digital interaction designer or “creative coder” in an agency afterwards.
2) I’m interested in/inspired by…
At age 19 I had a job as a caretaker for a boy with muscular dystrophy, who was very creative, but had a hard time finding a suitable outlet because of his reduced physical abilities.
With this project I want to enable people with physical disabilities to play music, so they can express themselves through a medium otherwise inaccessible.
The project could result in a input device for controlling different types of single (digital) instruments, a system for controlling generatively generated music or a prototype of a composition software with multiple tracks.
I am very interested in alternative interfaces within human-computer interaction, and combined with a passion for music and an interest in exploring coding based musical software I find that this topic both ideal and challenging.
3) This project is relevant because…
I believe that the ability to express oneself artistically should be available to all, regardless of physical disabilities or challenges. I play music for elderly people at Danish retirement homes and have experienced how music can change the atmosphere of a place and light up the mood for people who might have a monotonous everyday life.
From my own perspective it is a relevant focus for my final project because I see myself working with creative applications of sensor inputs in the future, either to solve problems or to make experiences for people. With this project I attempt to do both, and hope to learn a lot about the design process from designing for a very specific audience. By designing for such a narrow and perhaps “extreme” user group I also hope to develop a concept that can be interesting for other users or lead to unexpected ideas.
4) During my Final Project I would like to challenge myself in…
My starting point:
A fairly good understanding of music theory and familiarity with Ableton Live.
Skills in Processing and Arduino + experience with using external sensors (Kinect, Leap Motion etc) to communicate between different pieces of software.
Challenge 1: The usability of alternative interfaces.
I have previously done a music+sensor installations where the aesthetics and sound design was cool, but the usability of the actual “instrument” was low / too complicated for people to decode and use. The end product resulting from this project needs to be very intuitive and give the users as much control as they desire. It needs to be user centred, not artistic.
Challenge 2: Music software.
I hope to gain experience with either MAX/MSP / Supercollider / CHUCK / Gibber.js or another music coding environment during this final project. I have used Max4Life briefly but is unfamiliar with coding.
5) Related projects
See this post: Related Projects + Inspiration
6) My starting point
My starting point is a user group consisting of people with physical disabilities that prevent them from using regular musical instruments in the way that most people use them. I imagine that a common denominator would be the inability to use their hands for playing regular instruments, but I might discover other inabilities in the process. I also want to map out the physical abilities these people have, and how the user groups deals with other task that normally require functional hands in their everyday life.
In parallel with this user centred design approach I hope to develop a framework that enables me to build a series of lo-fi prototypes for controlling instruments or other parameters that effect a piece of music. The framework should be code-based, and made in such a way that once build, switching input type for the controller would require a minimum of work. With these prototypes I want to test the users response to using different kinds of inputs. These input types could be (neither complete nor limited to):
• Spatial position
• Voice command
• Facial gestures
• Position of head
• Eye gaze position
7) My starting point
I have done some some broad desk research trying to find existing projects within this field as well as other similar projects.
In terms of technical explorations I have experimented with a simple setup for triggering MIDI events within Ableton Live from Processing and Arduino using LiveOSC
I have previously used a Kinect sensor to create a generative piano installation using Processing and Ableton Live via OSC:
My next step will be to map out relevant organisations in Denmark and people in my personal network that can put me in contact with people within my target group. I want to try to have interviews or conversations around simple prototypes as soon as possible, and also start to build these prototypes before long.