Let’s talk about Synesthesia

A topic that interested me

This is my first official documentation about my Entrepreneurial Design research. My topic is about Synesthesia it is a rare neurological condition where two sensory intertwine.

I watched a documentation about Synesthesia long time ago but I never comes to my mind that this is something I want to work on / research on. Until this subject is all about working on something that you are passionate, and while I was struggling with the topic, a memory strikes me. Last summer during vacation, I was chatting with a friend who is a psychologist. I suddenly started this conversation with him about me seeing numbers in colors and genders. I told him what I see and my sister arrived later, we asked her the same questions, her answers are 80% same with me. From 0 to 9, all genders are the same, there are 70% of same colors and the rest are pretty much the same color platte. This is super creepy but really interesting to me.

I have done some primary research, looking at how synesthete see and experience the world, here are some of the example.

Some example when you have Synesthesia

There are people who created subway maps that change all the station names to the taste he associate with. Performances that done by synesthete musician that create a more sensory experience.

I interviewed people around me that has this condition. You can see a more detailed interview here. It fascinate me of the fact that they see the world with multiple sensory and how can I recreate that? So initially I was thinking about creating a world that stimulate the synesthesia experience, like seeing sound with color or pattern, a calendar that taste like different things, or even a food experience that contradict the taste.

And then I found an article about a scientist was trying to prove that people can train themselves to have synesthesia.

So that makes me think, how can synesthesia help us to learn? It is true that we all have some kind of association subconsciously, from branding, daily object, social media, the city. A biologist also did a research on how people associate colors with different words.

There are some kind of common association among us. Even the word “tickled” and “sneeze”. I m sure that this information will be really helpful for user experience design for helping user understand the information way faster.

But how can we use the condition of synesthesia to help us learn more by associating multiple elements? Will that help us to experience the world in a different way. Research found that a lot of kids subconsciously using colors as a “hook” to learn alphabets, instead of memorize every alphabets they memorize it by colors.

Another way to see synesthesia is the word “juxtapose”. Instead of understand it in a realistic way, maybe create something that is a total contradictory will be interesting.

Brainstorming process

Next step will be talking to more people that has this condition, understand how they experience the world differently and how can I create a something to help people realize how is that be like to mess up senses.

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