Design is: Adaptation
For example, take what happened when a pediatric anesthesiologist noticed that children who played video systems like Gameboy were in a state of almost complete distraction. Parents, dinner, TV all faded into the background, and the kids became totally focused on the game they were playing. Figuring that anything capable of making kids ignore food would make a good distractor when administrating anesthesia, the doctor and his colleagues measured anxiety in children who underwent anesthesia while playing video games, or while holding their parents hands (a more traditional method of calming). Gameboys won hands down.
As a result, the PediSedate system was created. This headphone system integrates music, or sound from a hand held game system into a mask for administering nitrous oxide or other gaseous initial anesthetics. Once the child is incapacitated by the small dose of gas, a more serious anesthetic regimen can be initiated intravenously. This system is reportedly very successful, reducing chances of children injuring themselves while flailing on examination tables as drugs are administered, and eliminating traumatic imagery which can haunt them in vivid dreams for weeks afterward.
In a similar case of adapting an existing norm of childhood technology use into a novel arena, Nic Roope of Pokia (now Hulger) fame has put together a novel product for inclusion in the upcoming "Hearwear – The Future of Hearing" show at the Victoria and Albert Museum. The exhibit asks designers from all over England, and the world, "What do the breakthroughs of today mean for the concept of hearing in the future?"
Nic recognized there is already a large population of ear-prosthetic wearing youth in Europe, and abroad -- those who listen to portable music players on large headphones. His reasoning was, why not use this form of "social camouflage" to enable youth who have hearing disabilities.
His answer, the WEARHEAD*PHONE is a pilot-style headphone set with a number of features that able-eared and hearing disabled people alike can appreciate. First, because of its larger size, the headphones contain 4 microphones per side which allows them to render true-3d sound, rather than the simple stereo that many present day hearing aids produce. The set is bluetooth enabled for phone conversations or streaming music from MP3 players. Based on recent developments like public music, like this year's Glastonbury Music Festival using headphones in the audience, this may be more widely applicable than it seems at first glance. Also for concert goers, a blue clip-on wireless microphone helps pairs stay connected when ambient noise becomes too loud or distracting.
We talked with Nic last week a bit, and he had this to say:
"This isn't supposed to be a fix for everyone with hearing difficulties.
New opportunities for designs like this are uncovered every day. For instance, a recent study found that surgeons who "practice" with "Super Monkeyball" are more dexterous, accurate, and accomplish their laproscopic surgery tasks faster than their piers who practice only on laproscopy simulators. How long will it be before some enterprising designer uses this information to develop a new training device which cranks out our best surgeons yet?
How many other items, behaviors, and standards are there in the world which could be explosive if applied to some novel area of use? As your ancestors picked up a shell and used it to dig, you too can find these opportunities and gain a design edge with them.
Copyright 2004-2006 Dominic Muren and IDFuel Team