Douglas Mann

© 2020 Douglas Mann

Voice Blox is a tactile language learning tool, helping hands-on learners get to grips with tone and inflexion, to help master their foreign language. This multimodal approach helps build memorable learning experiences. 

The tabletop device teaches you how to use the 4 tones of mandarin by offering a tactile representation of how they sound. Stroke the top surface to hear the ideal pronunciation of a word, repeat the word, watch the bottom surface move to match your tone, and compare the two.

Voice Blox takes a novel multisensorial approach which helps students that require more stimulating learning experiences. We think this same principle can be applied in other imaginative ways; such as practicing compelling public speaking; or even recovering from surgeries that affect a patient's vocal chords!

Project completed at:

Imperial College London

Royal College of Art

Collaborators:

Matthew Rice (Software)

Willhemina Crolius (Design)

Yang Gao (Design)

Responsibilities:

Research and Development

Rapid prototyping
Arduino / electronics

User testing

Timeframe:

5 months, 2017

Patent:

"Tactile Language Learning Tool" 

GB1800839.1

My team and I first noticed this connection when observing our Mandarin fluent colleague using tonal finger gestures when speaking. We simply tested this interaction and embodied it in a physical device to test our hypothesis. The working model listens to a speakers voice, interprets tone, and provides feedback.