Research, Concept, Ideation & Development
05-2018 – 08-2018
Anka Pelgrom, Mees, Anka & Me
Creating an unique experience for visually impaired people through smell and sound.
During my foundation year in Communication and Multimedia Design I worked on a game together with four other students for Bartiméus. Bartiméus is an institution for the care of visually impaired and blind people. Besides having a visual impairment or being blind, most of their residents have other disabilities as well. Party with Patty is a game specially made for people who’re blind or have a visual impairment. By putting its focus on smell and sound, Party with Patty enables Bartiméus’ residents to play the game in a fun and exciting way without having to use their eyes.
Bartiméus was looking at new ways for their residents to get more exercise. They decided on getting a Windows Kinect together with a special “light curtain”. This light curtain is a big 75 x 50 LED screen with golf ball-sized pixels. By connecting the screen and Kinect to a computer, different games can be played. Bartiméus’ residents are liking the light curtain; the only problem is that only a small amount of games was made for it. So Bartiméus came to us with the question if we could make a game for their light curtain.
Design a game for people with a specific disability.
Bartiméus is home to a lot of residents (Bartiméus prefers to call their people, residents instead of patients), who each have their unique disability. Because of the severity of their disability most of Bartiméus’ residents aren’t able to live an in depend life. So, in order for us to design a game that can be played by as many of their residents, we had to do a lot of research first.
Conducting research into the different disabilities beforehand
Before going to Bartiméus, we conducted desk research into all the different disabilities found among the patients of Bartiméus. We for example looked at color blindness to see which colors can be distinguished best by people who are color blind.
Field visits and user testing at Bartiméus
We also went to Bartiméus multiple times to observe the residents and test our prototypes. We observed them while they were going through their day to day tasks as well as them interacting with the light curtain. We also interviewed three of the patients and two caretakers who work at Bartiméus. With the obtained information we created two personas and a DESTEP analysis which helped us tremendously during the design stage.
Focus more on experience; stimulating different using smell and sound.
After having done a lot of desk research, we thought we’d have a rather clear image of how capable the residents are. But we quickly realized that our image of the patients was quite wrong. We got to meet the residents during our first visit at Bartiméus which showed us how capable they truly are. We saw that most of them have some form of mental and physical disability as well. Some of them even rode a wheelchair. This is also why they’re not able to fully live by themselves. This showed us that we should really focus on the experience rather than the gameplay.
Using smells to enhance the experience
Through online research I got in contact with Aromasolutions. This company specializes in the production of artificial smells and provide different ways of diffusing these smells. They mainly focus on marketing and how you can use their smells in for example stores, offices, hospitals etc. They were kind enough to send us two sample bags with so-called aroma beads in them. One bag contained aroma beads which smelled like birthday cake and the other containing aroma beads with the smell of freshly baked cookies.
Funny sounds to add humor
We obtained a lot of valuable insights through the interviews we had with the caretakers. For example, one of the caretakers named Esther told us this: “Most of the time the residents don’t even understand what is shown on the light curtain. They do on the other hand love the sounds that are used. Especially crazy little sounds effects like fart noises or an oinking pig.”
Experience a birthday party by hearing and smelling.
Party with Patty is a game in which the player is invited to Patty’s birthday party. You play different mini games like blowing out candles and popping balloons whilst being guided by Patty’s voice. She for example tells you to fling your hands in order to “blow” out the candles and complements you when you complete each mini game. You can literally smell the birthday cake, of which the scent is produced by a scent machine. So that players who are blind or have a visual impairment can still experience what is happening in the game.
I developed Party with Patty, in Java and it's only playable on Bartiméus’ light curtain together with the Windows Kinect. The different smells are being produced by the aroma beads, and then diffused by a fan.