I’m Annie and I’m participating on the Parlours of Wonder project as an e-textile designer. You can learn more about what I do here.
Last week I had the opportunity to attend Blaise Weston Court’s open day.
The Parlour of Wonder was busy throughout the day with all age groups popping by and it was wonderful to have so much helpful feedback for my prototypes. I can now work on the improvements to the technology with confidence!
Prototype 1 – Chair accessories
I was delighted with the helpful feedback I received about adding controls to an armchair. Several residents and staff thought it would be helpful to have sound in an antimacassar on the back of an armchair as many older people have hearing issues. They liked the idea of having controls just to the side of the arms on the chair so less mobile people could control their immediate environment. We discussed how these covers with embedded tech controls could be attached to the chair. We will have to consider how the covers could be washed and the tech detached. The soft textile textures were much enjoyed and felt to be comforting on the arms. We will test further textures and colours to help people with visual impairment use the textile control buttons providing them with simple, easy to access, control over their immediate environment; for example with regards to the TV, radio and room lighting.
Prototype 2 – The musical cushion
We discussed how I might use the Tangible Memories – Story Creator app to download sounds onto the cushion surface using the shells. I asked residents and visitors what sounds they would like to embed in the cushion. Popular responses where favourite music, bird songs, messages and comments from family and friends that could be refreshed on a weekly basis. I am thinking about how I can continue with these great ideas!
Prototype 3 – The cushion control
I have tested the cushion control with several people. We discussed colour, texture, size and function and asked what would people like to control. In response, I would like to make several other prototypes with clear bold primary colours for the soft buttons, emphasising the use of texture so you can find the buttons easily both by touch and visually. Areas of soft fur to stroke and provide comfort were also popular. We discussed the idea of simplifying the tech and providing large, easy to use soft buttons, on or off, using the cushion to control the radio, TV or a light to give an older person control of their immediate environment.
Jean very generously took time to try out my prototype and offer invaluable feedback; thank you!
Another prototype I am developing for the Parlours of Wonder project involves linking audio to images; the older residents and school pupils particularly liked activating the bird song that came from each of these familiar bird iamges.
Thank you to the staff and residents of Blaise Weston Court for all your help and support on the day , as well as all the visitors I spoke to!