Claire RICHARDS' Thesis Defense

Wearable Sound: Integrative Design for Hearing and Feeling Vibrations

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Student at Sorbonne University, Claire Richards is defending her thesis "Wearable sound: Integrative design for hearing and feeling vibrations" conducted under a CIFRE contract in partnership with the company Actronika SAS and two co-supervising laboratories: STMS Lab Ircam, in the Perception and Sound Design team, and the Design Research Center ENSCI/ENS Paris-Saclay.

The presentation will be in English. It will be in the Stravinsky room but you can follow it through the Web Channel Youtube

Prof. Stefania Serafin, Reviewer, Aalborg University
Prof. Bruce Walker, Reviewer, Georgia Institute of Technology
Dr. Jean-Loïc Le Carrou, MdC, Examiner, Sorbonne Université
Dr. James Auger, Examiner, Le Centre de Recherche en Design, ENSCI/ENS Paris-Saclay
Prof. Vincent Hayward, Scientific Advisor, Actronika
Dr. Damien Faux, R&D Manager, Actronika
Dr. Nicolas Misdariis, Thesis Director, Ircam STMS Lab
Prof. Roland Cahen, Thesis Co-advisor, Le Centre de Recherche en Design, ENSCI/ENS Paris-Saclay

Beyond their role as a link to the sensory world, our skin and ears share the ability to detect and appreciate vibrations. Thus, one stimulus can simultaneously excite the inner ear and the surface of the skin, through bone conduction and vibrotactile sensation. While investigating this specific sensory balance between hearing and touch, this thesis attempts to find a multidisciplinary equilibrium between the worlds of design, industry, and the sciences, first asking: how could wearable technology allow one to reflect on an experience of sound that involves not just the ears but the whole body? First, we conducted a psychophysical analysis of the auditory perception of vibratory stimuli displayed to specific musculoskeletal structures of the torso. We then applied those results in a design research framework to build and study a new wearable audio-tactile device: the Multimodal Harness.
We call our design research approach “integrative”. The various project elements each contribute to a cohesive whole, establishing a connection between science and design, perception and creation. These elements correspond to methodologies, contributions and outputs of the sciences of perception (psychophysical, multimodal…) and design research (product, speculative, interface, wearable…). Using the wearable device as a tool for creative exploration, we investigated how the interaction between hearing and touch can inform the composition of spatialized vibrations for the surface and interior of the body. We also used it during two scientific experiments, with the aim of studying the perceived congruence between audio-tactile musical stimuli, and the "bimodal" area where auditory and tactile sensitivities overlap. Each of the experimental, commercial, creative or theoretical outputs obtained through the Multimodal Harness contribute to the core project narrative: the experience of sound is about the experience of vibrations - something that each person can perceive and appreciate in their own way.

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