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Innovation Design Engineering (MA/MSc)

Eve Townsend

Speech disorders affect 90% of individuals with Parkinson’s Disease, while only 3-4% receive treatment for this. Speech symptoms can often predate diagnosis by over a decade, highlighting the importance of speech as a biomarker for the early-detection of the disease. People with Parkinson’s often have an altered perception of one’s own voice with an inability to self-correct for loudness, prosody and speech rate due to a lack of feedback in the brain’s motor-control loop. This inability to self-correct intensifies communication difficulties, greatly diminishing social aspects of their quality of life.

Loqui is a wearable assistive technology that translates speech parameters into tactile biofeedback. The device addresses issues related to altered speech perception, volume and rate by providing biofeedback on the person's voice. The device is designed to accompany people with Parkinson’s and speech therapists through speech exercises. More importantly, it enables people to use the device independently, outside of the training environment and in real-life conversations. By improving carryover and the transfer of skills into real situations, this can greatly improve the quality of life for those living with the disease.

Image of Eve

Eve is transdisciplinary designer and engineer who focuses on combining technical innovation with human-centred design. With a background in Physics (BSc), and study in optics and photonics, much of her work draws on the application of scientific knowledge to advance technologies that promise environmental and societal impact. Her research explores human-computer interactions in hybrid systems that combine physical and digital environments. By taking collaborative approaches, designing between industry and community, she hopes to accelerate the transition of early-stage research into usable and scalable products.

Haptic with Audio

Design Methods

Co-design, experimental and human-centred design are essential approaches for designing products and services that meet the needs of people with Parkinson’s disease. By involving people with Parkinson’s disease, clinicians, carers and family members in the design process, co-design ensures that their needs, preferences, and experiences are taken into account. This ensures that research is conducted from the perspectives of patients as well as professionals, preventing mismatches in research priorities and providing new insights. When patients are able to take a more active role in developing care insights can complement and extend the professionals’ perspectives, leading to research agendas that improves patient health outcomes and reduces costs.

pacing board

The Royal Commission for the Exhibition 1851