A sensorial device designed to bring the experience of interacting with paintings to the visually impaired.
This project challenged us to rethink the meaning of a product, going away from the cliched thought of it being just a tool and asking questions like can objects interact with users and convey its own emotion to a certain extent ?
My take on the brief was a bit twisted, rather than having objects reply and emote in return to our inputs I was fascinated by the thought of how could objects and the use of technology evoke emotions within us.
The research phase for this project was one of the more intense yet rewarding processes I might have had. After a constant back and forth with my mentors and going back to the drawing board multiple times, I was able to grasp a wide sense of how emotions operate and how various art forms such as paintings, music etc. arise various sensations within us.
During this time was when I discovered Wassily Kandinsky's work and his principle of 'Synesthesia'. The concept of one sensory stimulus triggering another was really fascinating, especially in Kandinsky's case where he was able to experience sounds while painting and vice versa.
Synesthesia is one of the most unique experiences one can go through, but unfortunately it is an experience very few get to experience organically. This led to the thought that can we develop a device to simulate the sensation of synesthesia, and allow a wider audience to experience it. Through this we would be able to build a relation between our auditory and visual senses.
Building further on the idea, we could use the same technology for someone who is visually impaired to feel what it would be like to see using auditory stimuli and evoking similar emotions.
Nexus is a sensorial device designed to bring the experience of interacting with paintings to the visually impaired.
Nexus realizes the possibility of evoking emotions through products with the help of sensorial elements. It detects colors and translates the information into corresponding sounds, allowing users to listen to what is visually expressed by a painting. Nexus brings to life Wassily Kandinsky's principle of synesthesia to give each one of us a new perspective on art and for many their first opportunity to experience it.
Technicalities of Nexus
Nexus achieves the translation using a series of sensors and a microcontroller. At one end of nexus a RGB sensor detects the RGB values of the colors it can see. it then send this information to an Arduino Nano which corresponds the numbers from the RGB sensor to pre-assigned sounds and plays them through a audio board and speaker.
All these electronics are housed in two separate hemispherical shells that were manufactured using 3D printing. Taking advantage of 3D printing all the mounts and holders for the electronics were integrated with the shell creating a homogeneous body. The bridge between the hemisphere which also acts as the touchpoint of the device, uses wood to provide a rigid support and at the same time offer comfort for the user.
Possibilities of Nexus
Nexus's potential lies in spaces like museums and exhibitions where art pieces and people interact with each other. The integration of a device like Nexus in such spaces increases the scope of the audience welcomed to the space.
This creates broader possibilities of conversation amongst visitors, increased footfalls and diverse interactions.
Another possibility that Nexus creates is facilitate collaborations between painters and musicians and asking them to come together to construct these audio visual spectacles. Through Nexus there are various opportunities to create fruitful collaborations and meaningful experiences for a diverse group of people.