Project AARGo: designing an audio augmented reality headset.
In the last few months, our team has been working on an interesting project with AWE, named AARGo for Audio Augmented Reality on the Go.
As part of our education at KEA, we are pushed to find companies to work with and help. We were lucky to partner-up with AWE, a small start-up based in Copenhagen that specialises in Audio Augmented Reality.
They trusted us with one of their projects: creating a device that would allow every person with a smartphone and headphones to experience Audio Augmented Reality.
Though a few products exist on the market, such as the Jabra headset or 3Dlabs devices, AWE was not satisfied with their accuracy or comfort.
During the research, we focused on three main areas: wearable technology, Audioguide behaviour, and headwear design. We made sure our PDS was complete by conducting interviews with our potentials buyers (Open Air Museums) and Interaction Design Specialists.
We analysed the history of wearable device from the first wirstwatches to the new cyborg trends, via MIT early prototypes and pacemakers. (You can find a list of our inspiration on our Pinterest here). To see what ergonomics they used and the problem they ran into, the social acceptance they faced (think anti-google-glass movement), and what solutions they found.
We were also excited to read more on the myriad of artificial synesthesia devices existing. For instance, Neil Harbisson can “hear” colors, thanks to his implant, and Wicab blind clients can taste vision.
To determine the shapes, materials, and placement we would propose, we screened different types of headwear, from laurel wreath to protective gear.
Eventually, we dug on the different studies that have been made on Open air museum audio guides to make sure our product tackled the right problems.
After having made a few sketches and presented different mood boards to AWE, we went on to prototype starting super low-fi with straws and elastic bands to more advanced Laser cut to finish with a FDM printing and metal bending as our final choice.
The process involved A LOT of failures. We tried to integrate a springs mechanism in the headband to realise it would be too bulky and overly complicated. We then tried to rely only on the clamp force of the material, only to find out that a one-size fits all would not be possible with such a process. As soon as we decided on a material or on a manufacturing process, we realised it was not doable for small batches. It was a very frustrating and educating process.
Eventually, we took inspiration from the HoloLens and used another plastic band on top of the head to make it stay and to distribute the weight of the device. Another option is to use a metal headband, making the manufacturing cheaper and being a more sustainable option.
If you want to read more about the choice of the manufacturing processes, clamp force calculation, and see our final report, you can download our report with this link.
We are grateful to AWE for letting us work on this exciting assignment, all the teaching staff at KEA but also Günter Alce from Lund University, Poul Kattler from experimentarium, Sebastian Klimdt and Hesham Hamidi from DTU.
To be continued…