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Synchrony is a therapeutic music platform that helps parents and children with autism develop intimacy and promote understanding with each other through improvised music play.

 
 
 

Accolades:

- IDEA IDSA 2015, SIlver (Student Category)
- Core 77 Awards 2015, Student Runner Up (Commercial Equipment)
- Core77 Awards 2015, Student Notable (Consumer Products)


Press:

Dubai Design Week / Business Insider / Swissmiss / Klonblog / Ideas Lab / Whittier Daily News

 
 

 

An emotional barrier exists between parents and children with autism.

This often leads to low self-esteem and decreased self-efficacy for both parent and child.

Improvised play in music therapy has proven to effectively bridge that social/emotional gap. However, the technical nature of music improvisation can intimidate parents from practicing it with their child.

 

 

Creating Acceptance

 
 
 
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By opening up a channel for social interaction through music creation, Synchrony actively promotes learning & discovery, helping parents accelerate into a state of acceptance of themselves and their child.

 

 


Mutually Enjoyable

 

Designed to sound melodious regardless of musical ability, Synchrony facilitates a mutually enjoyable music making process.

Parent and child can both coexist in a shared space, communicate nonverbally through music creation, and engage in interpersonal play while working towards therapeutic goals.

 
 

Intuitive Interaction

 

Synchrony uses the approachable and universally understood form language of a hand drum.

The soft, press-able silicone skin responses to the user’s touch by producing volume and resonance according to the pressure applied and the duration pressed.

 

 

Personalized Sounds

 

Connected via low-energy bluetooth, the complementing smartphone app allows parent, therapist or child to toggle between a selection of sounds according to their preference or mood. 

The smartphone app also records play sessions and facilitates goal coordination between parent and therapist.

 

 


Features & Benefits

 
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Synchrony’s musical platform creates a safe space for self-expression and self-exploration, facilitating the simultaneous process of projection and introjection.

 

 
 

Tuned to the pentatonic scale (which has no dissonant intervals), Synchrony has no ‘bad’ notes, allowing parent and child to create melodic compositions together regardless of their musical ability.
 

 
 
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By incorporating touch into the structural framework of music creation, it guides and reorganizes the child’s sensory information toward functionally adaptive interpretations.

 

 
 

The non-intimidating set up of Synchrony lowers the barriers for parental engagement, helping music therapists to build capacity within parents.

 
 

The Process


Interviews with:

 

5

Music Therapists

4

Parents of children with autism

 
 

Secondary Research:

 
 

4

Hours studying videos
of music therapy sessions

7

Medical journals/books on
music therapy and autism in children

 
 

Interview Excerpts

 
 

Vulnerable Population

 

Since children with autism are a vulnerable population, there were ethical constraints that had to be adhered to. This meant I could not sit in to document music therapy sessions first hand.

Constant consultation and prototype testing with music therapists and parents during the design phase ensured that the final design had genuine therapeutic benefits for both parent and child.

 

Reviewing the concepts with Elizabeth & Ian, parents of Faith, diagnosed with mild-moderate autism.


Reviewing the concepts with Elizabeth & Ian, parents of Faith, diagnosed with mild-moderate autism.

Reviewing the concepts with Jessica Brizuela, a practicing music therapist.


Reviewing the concepts with Jessica Brizuela, a practicing music therapist.


Prototype v.2, hooked up to a MaKey MaKey board in conjunction with Garageband.

Prototype v.2, hooked up to a MaKey MaKey board in conjunction with Garageband.

Testing Prototype v.2 with Jessica Brizuela, a practicing music therapist.

Testing Prototype v.2 with Jessica Brizuela, a practicing music therapist.

Sewing the pieces of conductive fabric on Prototype v.3.  


Sewing the pieces of conductive fabric on Prototype v.3.  

 

A staggered ascension of notes in the pentatonic scale was used, with 2 notes being repeated in each subsequent section. 

This was done as a straight ascension of 20 notes would result in 3 octave changes. The drastic shift in octaves could unnecessarily shock the child. Therefore, a staggered ascension of notes was selected.


In the first sample below, note the stark contrast between the low first note, vs the high, screeching last note in a straight ascension.

Compare that to the sample below, which produces a more mellow transition between the highest and lowest notes.

 

 
 
 
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