Project: Adaptive Music


What have I done?

The first quartile of the project I worked together with Meis Suker. We made a keyboard for people with a missing arm and specificaly for Nienke, who is a friend of Meis. This was very helpfull for the usertesting in the early stage of ideation. The ideation phase was done by Meis and me together. We started by formulating three design directions for different disabilities. Here we chose the group with a missing arm because it was very specific and we had a test user for that already which would speed up the whole process.

From the first user meeting we came up with the concept of a piano with pre-programmed chord pads to compensate for her missing arm. This would be the first prototype for the midterm. From here I focussed on the technology (electonics and Arduino programming). The programming seemed harder than it looked so I decided to let the project rest for a bit and start learning it from scratch by making a lot of simple examples. The technology and prototype casing by Meis were combined into our first protoype and tested with Nienke before the midterm. After that we made a poster and three cards with different interactions we could make after the midterm.

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What have I learned?

Basic electronics

For me it is the first time I work with electronics so it took some time to get started, having all the tools and understanding how it worked. I attented two workshops about electronics and I begin to understand the basics. Working with things like a multimeter, breadboard, resistors, piezo sensors and Arduino begin to feel comfortable now.

Basic Arduino programming

The programming part was new for me as well. Compared to the electronics this was the hardest part by far. I immediately wanted the result of the code because I knew exactly what I wanted to do, but I just did not know how. It was done before, but on so many different ways that I did not know which was the right one. A friend helped me out and we wrote a big part of the code together. I was very happy with this because I now understand what is really happening in the code.

Teamwork

I chose to work together with Meis Suker who is a friend of mine. By working together we had a big advantange and we could work way faster than the others who worked solo. Because she is a friend of mine I sometimes had some difficulties to be clear and honest to eachother. I learned that it is better for the result of the project and also the friendship that you always need to be very clear of what you can aspect from eachother. This way no energy is lost in doubts or waiting.

Importance of early-phase usertesting

During the first quartile of the project we already conducted two user tests with Nienke. This was very beneficial and sped up the process. so no time was wasted on useless ideas. We are lucky that our user is a friend of Meis because she is very closely involved.

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Why does this contribute to my development?

Basic electronics

When making innovative solutions and new products one often ends up with a technological solution nowadays. I don't want to become an expert in electronics but I need to understand the basics to be able to communicate with others who are really good at it.

Basic Arduino programming

The same goes for programming. Although I don't think programming an Arduino will be of high importance in the future, I do think that programming skills can be a great asset for a designer. Therefore I am learning the basics of Arduino programming and I plan to learn JAVA as well.

Teamwork

I think designing is never done alone nowadays. Therefore I try to work together with a lot of different people to get a feeling for teamwork and how I can get the best out my team. Now I work with a friend of mine, while another project I worked with somebody that I did not like at all; both great learning experiences.

Importance of early-phase usertesting

I already knew that user testing is fundamental in the design process, but I never experienced the benefits of early user tests. I will not wait anymore until I finished my prototype to begin testing , but on the first moment I know my user group I will start the conversation.

Next steps

After the midterm I will continue the project with Meis. We will going to search for other interactions with our piano an we need to find a way to make this as elegant as playing a normal piano. I want to have a meeting with an old friend of mine who is a piano an composition expert that could help us with the mapping of the movement to music.