Interaction Design: Physical Digital Products - ICON Article

Third year of Digital Interaction Design began with a brief on creating objects around the concept of 'whispering' and having us as a class brainstorm about how the word is perceived, for example, metaphorically or literally.  From this we were to find our own interest amongst the topic of whispering to research and produce a critical piece written in the style of an ICON magazine article. Our lecturer Graham gave us free reign to explore any aspect - this led to some of the class exploring technological routes, metaphysical routes and even exploring ethical issues. The catch was that we had to relate it in some way to whispering. I decided to head down the technological route and initially begin exploring how whispering could be integrated into technology. This led me to very interesting research and experiments conducted by, surprisingly, Disney.  Their project "Disney's Whispering Finger" or it's official name "Ishin-Den-Shin" looked at sending converted audio signals through the body through the use of special microphone - the gist of the project was that when the user spoke into the modified microphone the audio signals would be turned into electronic signals by a computer and sent back to the microphone's casing. When the user of the microphone touched another person's ear the signal was transferred through a tiny electric shock, allowing the person to hear the message whispered into the microphone.  This gave me the inspiration for my article's title "The Magic Touch" and also led to me to more interesting leads on technology exploring the combination of whispering and touch.

The next piece of technology I looked at was a project called Touch-Hear. Developed in Singapore, it aimed to help readers who came across unfamiliar words or troubling pronunciation by whispering the meaning into a device in the user's ear. Using an implant consisting of three dots (sensors) on the user's finger, when the dots scan over the troubling word the information is relayed to the device and 'whispered' to the user in a bid to make it non-intrusive and so only the user can only hear the information. This helped give my article more depth since it led to me to consider how the whispers were being used in the different technologies - in one, it seemed that the idea of whispering was used as more of a novelty aspect where as in the other the device was using the whispering in a meaningful way.

To round off my article, I researched a technology that seemed slightly more abstract compared to the first two projects. This project was called 'Finger-Whisper' and was created by a Japanese Company called NTT DoCoMo. They aimed to create a device worn on the wrist that would turn the user's hand into a mobile phone. Using various different hand gestures to interact with the phone, the project sadly never took off into the commercial market and was eventually dropped - not before the possibility of telepathic communication was explored as a potential development of the device.

As part of the hand in, we were required to fully create the article - including typography, images and text. Below is a mockup of my final hand in and my article can be read here.

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