Sound Bowl2013

How might we transform the everyday baking experience by reimagining a traditional mixing bowl?

Sound Bowl is an interactive mixing bowl that creates a playful and positive educational baking experience. The characteristic focus on accuracy is de-emphasized as measurement units are abstractly reinterpreted. During step-by-step recipe guidance, real-time sound and light feedback provide a fun way to understand the relationship of ingredients while baking.

Overview

Sound Bowl was part of a two week sound design project during which Interaction (IxD) and Advanced Product Design (APD) first year masters students worked together. The brief asked us to pick an existing product that has either no or little sound design properties and redesign the product with a focus on sound, while also evaluating and redesigning form and light aspects. My team decided to focus on enhancing the everyday baking experience by reimagining a traditional mixing bowl.

interaction design prototype by karey helms

Intent

Often while baking, the characteristic focus on accuracy often discourages both adults and children alike from engaging in the pastime. In additional, recipes imply an understanding of cultural specific measuing units and a need for particular measuring tools are necessary. These supposed requirements overlay a tedious and serious focus. By reimagining a mixing bowl, our goal was to create a playful and positive educational baking experience.

interaction design prototype by karey helms

Result

Sound Bowl is an interactive mixing bowl that de-emphasizes accuracy as measurement units are abstractly reinterpreted both audibly and visually. During step-by-step recipe guidance, as a user adds an ingredient, real-time sound and light feedback provide a fun and easy way to understand the relationship between individual ingredients and the recipe as a whole. The introduction of audio and visual cues in the Sound Bowl allows users to develop a genuine feel and understanding for ingredients and recipes, independent of units, age and experience. Sound Bowl is the next secret ingredient.

interaction design prototype by karey helms

Design

Sound Bowl is comprised of three pieces – a scale, mixing bowl, and detachable interactive top ring. After a user digitally sends a recipe to the ring and places the bowl on top of the scale, this unique baking experience begins. Graphical elements along the ring display the number of actions and ingredients as well as their proportional relationship to one another. During each step, a sequence of tones both builds to complete an octave and decreases in frequency, to provide audio indication of either the amount of remaining time of an action or measurement of an ingredient. A short sequence of tones indicates the completion of a step. In addition to sound, the inner edge progressively illuminates, providing supportive visual feedback.

interaction design prototype by karey helms

Process

During the first week of this two week project, we quickly moved from ideation to concept design. Once we had an outline of the new user experience of our redesigned mixing bowl, we set up both low and high fidelity user testing to gain feedback before beginning the construction of our working prototype. The low fidelity user testing involved taking turns pouring water into a bowl while testing sounds on a piano that would affect pouring (or measuring of an ingredient). For higher fidelity user testing, in an actual baking environment we gave users real ingredients to measure while projecting an array of LEDs on the bowl rim that coincided with a decreasing octave. Key learnings from the testing were that the LEDs was an important complement to the sound design and the octave should be increasing instead of decreasing.

While my team members began working on the storyboard and product design, I recorded the final sounds and edited them in Adobe Audition.

interaction design prototype by karey helms

Prototype

During the second week of the project, another team member and I focused on building a working prototype with the form and design created by our Advanced Product Design team member. As we were located in the far north of Sweden and working within a tight timeframe, we did not have time to order appropriate load sensors to be shipped to Umeå. Therefore, we bought a measuring scale and took it apart to salvage the load sensors. After successfully accessing the load data, I then realized that the sensors from a body scale could not measure the relatively small amounts used in baking. Following this minor setback, after some laughs and frustration, we used a potentiometer to Wizard of Oz (fake) the measuring unbeknownst to users.

interaction design prototype by karey helms

Following hacking into the load sensors, while my prototyping teammate focused on building the array of LEDs, I programmed the corresponding sounds and video clips projected onto the interface of the bowl. Together we transferred the LEDs and soldered the final wires.

Umeå Institute of Design
Sound Design course

Team
Henriette Stykow, Malin Andersson, Yui Komatsu

Roles
Ideation, sound design and user testing was a team collaboration.
My primary role was creating a working physical prototype.

Skills
processing, Arduino, Adobe Audition