Intelligent, pet-like assistants feature in Edinburgh College of Art student exhibit


Digital home and tableware companions that respond to multisensory dining experiences are among the products on display in this Virtual Design Festival school exhibit by product design students at the Edinburgh College of Art.


The seven projects featured in the digital exhibit were completed by students of the BA Product Design course at the school, which is part of the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

Taught by Larissa Pschetz, Bettina Nissen, Jonathan Rankin and Jon Barnes, the course invites students to “question existing ways of doing things” and create a unique portfolio tailored to their personal interests.


University: Edinburgh College of Art
Course: BA Product Design
Tutors: Larissa Pschetz, Bettina Nissen, Jonathan Rankin and Jon Barnes

Course statement:

“At the University of Edinburgh, students gain a broad perspective on the world of product design.

“They tackle contemporary themes and work through design dossiers that range from electronic artefacts that intervene in data transactions, human interactions and new business models, to new ways of working with artisanal materials and fashions. traditional and new manufacturing.

“Our small cohorts allow for tailored teaching and learning where students are encouraged to follow their own interests and build a uniquely designed profile.

Throughout the program, students are encouraged to take risks, work with others, and lead an iterative experimental process to design artefacts and systems that challenge existing ways of doing things, in keeping with tradition. of innovation and cutting-edge practice and research that has been at the heart of the university’s values ​​for centuries. “


Social stabilizers by Amos Wheeldon

“Social Stabilizers is a project to raise awareness of the experiences of neurologically diverse members of society.

“The ‘overload lamp’ is one of a series of responses that describe these experiences through everyday artifact behaviors.

“In this case, the overload lamp alters the exposure and direction of light in response to high and low frequency sounds in its immediate environment. This embodiment of sensory overload exposes neurologically normative people to this experience. developing empathy and diversifying our emotional intelligence. “

Student: Amos Wheeldon
Project: Social stabilizers
Website: amoswheeldon.com
Contact address: [email protected]


Gyrophone v.1 by Ben Manders

Gyrophone v.1 by Ben Manders

“In an increasingly online and disjointed society, Gyrophone technology encourages true human connection through music and movement by stimulating face-to-face interaction.

The Gyrophone v.1 is the first synthesizer that harnesses a gyroscope to enable spontaneous and collaborative music creation. It uses GPS technology to let you venture out into the world to unlock a variety of sounds and instruments.

“By seeking out these hot spots, jammers can meet other people to collaborate with, using their shared sound library. As the gyrophones dance together, the sounds are manipulated in harmony with each other to generate new music. spontaneous and original. “

Student: Ben manders
Project: Gyrophone
Website: www.benmanders.com/gyrophone-v1
Contact address: [email protected]


Voro by Findlay Macdonald

Voro by Findlay Macdonald

“Our future relationships with intelligent assistants will become symbiotic, we will no longer view them as characterless assistants but as digital domestic companions.

“By establishing relationships similar to what we currently have with pets, these digital life forms will require the user to provide them with data and, in return, provide access to full hyper-personalized functionality.

“This leaves the user with a paradoxical question as to whether keeping their pets alive and functioning at their peak justifies breaking the boundaries when it comes to their own data privacy.”

Student: Findlay Macdonald
Project: Voro
Website: www.finmacstudios.com
Contact address: [email protected]l.com


Metamorphosis of Ladina Brunner

Metamorphosis of Ladina Brunner

“Metamorphosis is an interactive installation focused on designing an experience that encourages changes in perception through a co-production of the narrative.

“This installation aims to address the importance of breaking with the usual spaces and mentalities in which we live by stimulating our senses in a completely new way. Allowing participants to modify their environment and to experiment within Metamorphosis gives birth to a new understanding of the relationship between their body and space.

“The main objective of Metamorphosis is that no participant leaves with the same perceptions of the relationships between his body, his mind and his environment as before entering the installation.”

Student: Ladina Brunner
Project: Metamorphose
Website: www.ladinabrunner.com
Contact address: [email protected]


Assaporando by Micol Zardi

Assaporando by Micol Zardi

“Assaporando is a project that explores multisensory stimuli in culinary experiences, manipulating the five senses to enhance catering.

“The transfer of sensation is what connects our senses to flavor and allows multi-sensoriality to induce new experiences by the guest. Shape, color, texture, sound and weight are elements which, if combined, change the way we perceive flavor When the five senses are manipulated and controlled while eating, the taste perceptions of the diners are altered.

“These dishes intensify the taste experience; shape, texture, color and weight enhance the perception of flavors by diners, creating an extraordinary dining experience.

Student: Michel zardi
Project: Assaporando
Website: zardimicol.com
Contact address: [email protected]


Climate Summit by Preston Kneen

Climate Summit by Preston Kneen

“The Climate Summit game informs, engages and creates a discussion about the actions governments around the world are taking on climate change.

“A tried and true experience from ten years old, Climate Summit brings the learning of in-depth research into a game that can be played with friends and family.

“Do you want to know what you can do for our planet? Do you feel confused by politicians and empty promises of change? Compete with other players to be energy sustainable first, and find out how you can influence your nation now to make a better future. “

Student: Preston Kneen
Project: Climate summit
Website: jpkdesign.me
Contact address: [email protected]


Incognito by Shannen Dorothee Tioniwar

Incognito by Shannen Dorothee Tioniwar

“Incognito is a smart offline device that allows users to determine whether they want to share their data with the ‘always listening devices’ with the respective consequences.

“This is done by allowing users to categorize and rank the perceived level of data privacy, allowing them to consciously share data at their own discretion.

“This interactive middle device gives users the ability to customize a device’s limits with respect to data collection. Incognito gives a user the ability to explore the challenges and opportunities offered by devices supported by AI. “

Student: Shannen Dorothée Tioniwar
Project: Incognito
Website: www.shannentioniwar.com
Contact address: [email protected]


The Virtual Design Festival student and school initiative provides a simple and affordable platform for groups of students and graduates to showcase their work during the coronavirus pandemic. Click here for more details.


Kayleen C. Rice