The Idea: Xi Liu and myself worked with occupational therapists and Strivright School for children with hearing impairments to development a next generation sensory wall. Children with various disabilities crave sensory input, and there are many styles of rooms which assist with this needed stimulation. However, there is room for innovation. Combining elements of assistive technology, custom hardware, and digital fabrication, we set out to make a technology-heavy wall that would allow for a one-of-a-kind experience for children.
The Execution: After extensive user-testing and ideating with our team and experts in therapy and technology, we stayed away from more exploratory technology (i.e. magnetic and conductive paint), and used magnets to make solid electrical connections. Students can play with 11 different animals and move them where ever they’d like on the wall, but when they close connections where steel circles are present, that animals will illuminate, vibrate, make sounds, and spin. Flowers on the wall respond to hands being nearby, and the tree being touched allows for some circuits to close. We opted for an animal theme through which therapists will be able to teach students about the animal kingdom.
Going Forward: This project will eventually live at the Strivright school, so we are refining, securing components so they’ll be ready for the wear-and-tear from many children, and will send it off to the school in Spring 2016.
Technology used: Arduino, Eagle, Vectorworks, Mastercam, custom circuits and microcontrollers, Othermill, acid etching