I'm new to this forum so Hello! I'm Katie and I'm a MSc Product Design student based in Dundee, Scotland.
I'm currently working on a project researching autism, the area I'm looking at specifically is "processing time."
This is based on research that people with autism often need longer to process information, especially in demanding social situations.
I've designed a prototype "buffering badge."
The idea behind this is to make this process visible, therefore making 'processing time' something that can be tangible to an audience.
At the moment this is only a prototype, ideally I would love to make this smaller and more wearer friendly.
This version requires the user to press it, and the buffering displays for 10-12 seconds.
I would love for some feedback on this idea, would this be something that you could see being useful in social situations?
If even just to start a conversation around processing time and breaking the ice.
I realise this is not something that would work the same way for everyone, especially children who may want to use it more like a toy.
But any feedback would be appreciated. For example would a noise sensor be a better trigger, removing the user from pressing a button and making the badge work on its own in busy crowds/multiple voices in a conversation? Or would something more subtle like a badge that has the logo but doesn't have lights/electronics be something that might be more likely to be worn? In which case, how would users feel about using the buffering logo as a symbol that's linked to autism awareness?
Please let me know!
I should also mention, this is not research work! Nothing commented here is for anything other than an open discussion. I have a volunteer group to trial these once they are refined, I'm not looking for "data," and the stage that I am at comes from my research thus far. I just don't want this to exist only in an academic bubble. I think this is worthwhile sharing and having a conversation about.
All best wishes,
I love the idea of this.
I could do with one at work, where I am always asking people to wait while I empty my mind and focus. For me I would love to have it activated by voice, and buffer until I say a specific phrase. Or preferrably I would have a wireless clicker I could click to stop the buffering (Which would also be therapeutic as I like clicking things)
This would be great in a crowd as it would almost always be buffering, signaling I am not ready to engage until I am ready.
I also like the idea of the logo representing awareness, as it supports the NAS 'too much information' program.
If you need a test subject I would be happy to help!
There is already an autism logo - the coloured jigsaw pieces that are used in a lot of places such the autism awareness ribbon.
One issue might be that it draws attention to people who don't handle attention well. It is likely to generate questions that a person with autism may not like, or be able, to answer comfortably.
Hello recombinantsocks! Just incase there was any miscommunications, I wasn't implying that this or any other logo should replace existing autism awareness ribbons/symbols. But rather act in addition to these. And thank you for your feedback! I agree the lights/flashing may draw unwanted attention and cause distress. What do you think about the logo just as a static pin badge? That would draw less attention than lights perhaps. Or do you dislike the buffering metaphor itself?
I feel a bit as though I will just be raining on your parade with my comments. As an inventor you will have to get used to having lots of ideas from which only a very few will turn into something useful. I like the idea of the animated badge but I suspect that it might work in some circumstances - for example it might help in autism awareness classes - I attended one of these after diagnosis and experienced how chaotic it was because some us were particularly hopeless at taking turns and noticing what other people were thinking. Have you heard of the "talking spoon"? such devices can help bring structure to the chaos and I think that your device might work in that environment.
The buffering idea is fine but the people one meets have zero idea about what autism is or what problems one has. By zero I mean that almost nobody that I have talked to outside of this forum and the nhs services I have used has any clue about autism. You won't get your button concept recognised where it needs to work - on the bus, in the street, in a workplace. There was a badge scheme to encourage people on the london underground to talk to each other. It was a nice idea but it comprehensively failed to grasp how ordinary people think and behave.
Keep inventing though, inventing is good :-)
I agree with recombinantsocks' comments about people having 'zero idea about autism'.
Having said that, my other quick thoughts follow.
I found the speed of the lights to be too quick for my comfort. Putting my comfort aside, the speed of the lights may give people the wrong idea (e.g. fast lights equal fast thinking).
I also found the lights too bright (and I have the brightness of my monitor turned down low). Having said that, if the device is also for outdoor use then they have to be fairly bright.
Hi again Katie.
Having had a couple of days to think about this I still think for me, in my work and office environment this would be a good thing.
Often people start talking to me before I manage to focus in on them, and I end up missing half of the conversation. I take Caretwo's point about the speed of the lights, and they could be a little slower.
For me I don't need to see the lights, but they would be for my colleagues when they start to talk, they would have a visual clue to know when I am giving them my full attention. There would need to be a way of distinguiushing if a person was interacting with me, rather than talking in my vacinity, otherwise it would be on quite a lot and potentially catch peoples eye constantly.
I would rather have a pocket clicker to deactivate, or have it so it could be operated from say a smart watch or similar. This would also enable it to be easily set to off when not in an appropriate environment, and then activated when I start on working, so that I can then buffer / dissentangle myself.
I would also not mind having a slight vibrate through say a smart watch to alert me to the fact someone is needing to interact. This may not be appropriate for everyone, but as I say, in my office work environment, where I need to interact, thos would be a benefit to me in my daily life.
Its also nice to see design students looking at developing aids for real world issues that could make a difference to many people!
Thank you so much Daniel for your amazingly considered response. I'm so glad you've been considering the idea still after your initial comment! I totally agree, the main reason I didn't develop the first one with a noise sensor was that I was worried it would be on constantly, which would undermine the times when a user may need to stop talking/interacting completely and process. At the moment it is activated my a push button attached at the back of the badge, so you tap the badge itself to activate. I think a pocket clicker would be a great way to activate this too! Originally I thought that pressing the badge would draw initial attention to it, and allow the person who may not understand processing time to focus on the badge. But the lights should do that too, so a pocket clicker is something I could definitely develop! I think a workplace would be a great place to test this and that's what I intend to do with my participants. How do you think this would work in social situations like say, being in a shop or public place? I think the lights are quite fast and bright at the moment, and as they say the devil is in the details, especially with the timing and brightness in order for it not to be distracting to the wearer. I'm hoping to refine this further after testing and first hand feedback of use. Thank you again for your feedback!
Thank you again! I had not heard of the talking spoon tool specifically, but my young cousin has been to several similar organised meetings for children with autism, helping them to listen and interact socially. I think It's a similar environment you're possibly discussing, that's a fantastic suggestion. It could be used more as an educational/conversation tool to encourage listening/taking turns. I think that only after testing will I be able to understand the "joe public's" response to this. This might give a better sense of whether the buffering logo works as a visual metaphor. Unfortunately I agree, there is a real lack of understanding when it comes to autism. That's really been the driving force behind this project, trying to find some way to make this visual, how can you make someone who doesn't understand autism and someone who has autism, have a positive social experience? It's a wicked problem, and awareness needs to be raised. I'm not suggesting this is the solution, but at least it's beginning to explore the issue. I will definitely keep designing!
I think getting it to work in public would be the hardest thing to do, as there is so much going on all the time. This is where I think it would need to be 'activated' by the wearer when they want to. I think if a person is able to activate the badge by clicking it, then they are probably receptive to the interaction in the first place. Its when I know someone is trying to interact that I then turn and start to focus. I find for me, the gap is between when they start to talk and when I actually notice and am ready.
By default a user are going to want it to help people understand that they need to wait till the wearer is ready, but in a crowd if it was just noise activated it would be on all the time, and actually draw unwanted attention to the wearer.
If I was the wearer I would only want to activate it when I was in an environment / state of mind to be ready to accept people interacting with me
e.g: I walk through town to the library, then as I enter the library I know I will have to interact so I set it to start when people try to interact with me, so I can then focus on them and they know when I am ready.
Again, the difficulty would be having it start working when people try to interact with me, rather than just background noise etc. Otherwise it would bring more attention from more people rather than highlighting to the intended.
Just going through all of this is highlighting to me the difficulties in product design, but that's why I am not a design student