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Innovation Design Engineering (MA/MSC)

Lea Marolt Sonnenschein

Hey! 👋🏻

My name is Lea and I'm an interdisciplinary designer, engineer and entrepreneur. I'm fascinated by the human mind; how we make decisions, how we learn, and how we experience the world. 

My underlying motivation is to help individuals understand their full potential and build on it. To that end, I create playful and enabling experiences for people to better understand themselves and navigate the world around them. 

I have a BA (Hons) in Computer Science from Grinnell College (IA, USA).

Project Stealth (intraoral identification gadget), an IDE group project, has been featured in multiple publications including DezeenDutch Design Week, and WiredProject Stealth now continues as a startup supported by Innovation RCA and Imperial Enterprise Lab. 

In the RCA x CERN Grand Challenge collaboration, my group project, Pilingo (localising over-the-counter medicine), was a finalist in the Social and Economic Disparity category.

*Throughout this project display, I will intentionally use the phrase "people who are blind" rather than "visually impaired" to refer to my end users. I do this because ReMind was designed specifically with and for congenitally blind individuals.

ReMind helps blind people develop their natural music potential. It's a mobile application that makes learning and practicing music by ear fun! ReMind embodies sound and allows the musician to manipulate and navigate audio with ease through intuitive gestures and voice commands. With ReMind, we're throwing conventional interactions out the window. No. Sight. Required. 

Before innovation, design and engineering, Lea was on a fast track to become a concert pianist and has been playing the piano since she was 5. ReMind combines her love of music and passion for creating enabling technology that allows everyone to participate in creative self-expression.

ReMind is an iPhone application optimised for touch and sound, that works entirely through gestures, speech, haptics and audio feedback. No visual UI required. ReMind meets people who are blind on THEIR playing field.

18 people are currently testing ReMind, and we've already gone through 5 major iterations incorporating their feedback.

One of the most impactful thing I've heard a participant say was:

"ReMind makes me feel able. I don't need any special accommodation because I'm blind. It works the same for everyone."

And that, above all else, made this project truly worthwhile!

To try ReMind, you first have to download TestFlight from the App Store. It's an Apple app that allows developers to test out prototypes that aren't ready for production. The app is only available on iPhone at the moment. Reach out if you're interested in collaborating on an Android version!

Input — ReMind allows musicians to easily control and navigate an audio recording through simple gestures and voice commands. Like tapping once with two fingers to play or pause, or saying UP to speed up.
Advanced Input — ReMind lets musicians cut an audio file into multiple pieces, loop the pieces and play along. With that, it affords them the possibility to focus on one particular segment, similar to the experience of sheet music.
Output — Each action the user makes also comes with a reaction to successfully communicate the system state. In ReMind I achieve this with custom designed earcons, haptic patterns and robust auditory overviews.
Output Example — Example of what an earcon and a haptic pattern sound and feel like.

ReMind is a complex iPhone application that throws conventional interaction out the window. It’s built on top of apple’s core system frameworks and two open-source third party libraries, LoFelt Haptics and AudioKit. You can view ReMind's source code on GitHub:

Onboarding: When the user first downloads ReMind from the AppStore, they’re taken through a robust onboarding teaching them all the gestures and voice commands for practice mode.

Import Audio: Next, they select an audio from their files or record a new one on the spot.

Practice: Then they enter practice mode, the core app experience.

Menu: And if they ever need to remember the interactions they can access a menu by tapping twice with three fingers anywhere on the screen or saying “menu”.

ReMind is a labour of extensive research and immersion in the blind world. This allowed me to understand the broad problem space and focus in on the biggest opportunity for an intervention; learning new music.

By clearly weighing the challenges and benefits of the different approaches, I chose the one with the biggest potential to make an impact; learning through audio recordings.

Running several failed and successful experiments in sensory augmentation and embodied audio, I arrived at ReMind.

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