Graham Pullin approached our design studio with the task of taking his current prototype to the next iteration. I was initially skeptical as it felt like “we’ve taken this as far as we can, time to use a studio of 50+ students for free”. I feel like we work for free for many organisations over our four years of study so it was a bit of a pain point in that moment. In the end it was actually quite an eye opening experience.
Turns out if you give a bunch of designers an existing prototype with a defined function we end up diverging completely in four hours. In a cyclone of cardboard and blue foam dust we created several brand new ideas off the back of Graham’s initial ideas. Tonetable was a simple speech augmentation device that allowed the user to select words and phrases and the tone of voice they would like to utter them in and Tonetable would say it for them.
Our prototype focused on mobility issues as the current iteration was not adequate in that aspect and that motor impairments are co morbid with vocal impairments. The user would roll or push two cylinders into a trough then rotate them in place to select a word and a tone. This was easier to achieve as it did not require accurate motor skills. It also allowed words to be selected quickly to enable conversational flow.