2021
New York

/ Musical Haptics
/ Hearing Health
/ Multi-sensory Experience

Designing a new immersive way of experiencing music while protecting the hearing health  


Frevo is a wearable music-synchronised vibro-tactile device with an integrated digital system to provide an immersive listening experience while preventing the risk of noise-induced hearing loss.




Defining Frevo
What if we can lower the volume and ensure the safety of our hearing health, while still having an immersive and enjoyable experience of music?

Music can be felt as much as heard. Yet, it loses its essence of touch when listened to on personal audio devices. In order to have a more immersive experience, people choose to listen at higher volume settings over long listening periods. Today, over a billion young people aged 12 to 35 years are at risk of hearing loss due to this recreational exposure to high volumes.

Frevo is a wearable music-synchronised vibro-tactile device with an integrated digital system to provide an immersive listening experience while preventing the risk of noise-induced hearing loss. It introduces haptics technology to create a new sensory way to feel and listen to music.





Frevo Wearable.  The device sits on the shoulders with inner soft pads. The pads have vibration motors that work in synchoronization with the digital interface on the music streaming platform. Depending on the genre, the volume, the duration of listening period, the device will provide personalized audio-haptic combinations.




Physical & Digital Design
People who often love the sensation of loud music and want to feel the music can adapt to the lower volumes with Frevo’s audio haptic combination and Frevo wearable device.

The wearable device comes with a hearing health intervention embedded in device control with no need of ad-ons: all-in-one music streaming platform, Spotify.

- Data Integration such as in-app volume selection, the genre selection and song qualities with Spotify and Health data from iOS
- Frevo device reads and writes data on iOS's Health Section
- Customised Experience via suggesting audio-haptic combinations for selected music




Process
Frevo was developed through interactive workshops with stakeholders and on-going discussions with experts and researchers focused in haptics and music as well as music industry professionals. These discussions helped to redefine the experience of music listening, the personal and external reasons behind exposure to dangerous volumes and awareness in hearing health.

This iterative design process first helped me to understand when and where to intervene within the process, better understand the users and their habits around music and eventually build a suitable product, its user flow and the most applicable use cases.






Process Highlights

Building Rapid Prototypes
The first low-fidelity prototype communicates the haptic feeling of loud sound exposure. It was a large piece of garment with vibration motors activated by Arduino.

Interactive Workshops
These workshops designed to test the if the vibrotactile feedback can make the music listening experience more immersive at reduced volumes.  Four prototype fabrics were handed to the participants during different stages to place freely and experience vibration feedback.

Structured Workshops
Through physical and digital mockups, the testing workshop was conducted to test and define the feedback stimulation and placement, evaluate the existing digital hearing health interfaces and compare the features of the design outcome.




Feature / Exhibition
The project was showcased during

-> RCA2022 Graduate Show, and
-> Summer Show at the Imperial College London.



Acknowledgements
Special thanks to my major project tutor Dr. John Stevens as well as Professor Gareth Loudon, Dr. Leila Sheldrick and Jack Mama. Lastly a grand thank you to my fellow GID cohort.