Helping children with special educational needs during their therapy sessions
Design collaboration focused on the impact that technology can have to empower SEN therapists to enable children with special educational needs to engage, explore and express during their therapy sessions, by using Cosmo.
COSMO has been selected as the best SEN product at BETT 2017!
Cosmo is the name of the first product created by Filisia Interfaces, start up integrated by Georgios Papadakis, Eirini Malliarak & Panos Tigkas. Cosmo is a tactile multimedia system for special education and training. It is designed to help therapist to engage with people that have special education needs in their training and therapy sessions. This is done by training cognitive, physical and communication skills through a multimedia device that uses sound, music and colour, using a hardware works as an interface that connects wirelessly to up-to 6 colour units.
By April 2016, Filisia had created functional prototype both physical (light units) and digital (UI). However, there were many design issues needed to be solved before their first commercial release planned for September 2016. I began working for them with the purpose to collaborate at many stages within the design process: From doing research field to help defining the interactions and interface of their iPad app.
There were three different areas that needed to be addressed:
- User-centred research: Take in deep consideration the needs, expectations, anxieties and behaviours of the potential Cosmo users. Have a better understanding who we are designing for, considering them in mind at every stage of the design process. That common language needed to be shared and agreed with the team.
- Address serious UX/UI problems
- New branding was needed.
The design process involved interviews with music therapists and IT specialists. Natural observation at London Mapledown School for children and young people with Severe Learning Difficulties (SLD), Autism (ASC) and those with profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD). It involved benchmark of other hardware learning systems. Finally, new UX/UI prototypes were designed and developed responding to the insights.
"Technology is moving very fast and Cosmo is a way to get people to see past the obvious disability and enable the children to show what they can do and also to show their cognitive ability... I am always trying to find new ways to access music independently for our children.''
- Music therapist
Next steps & suggestions
Further UX/UI testing with real users after finishing the development was suggested, together with a future focus on development reports for therapist to measure progress.