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Amplify

by Daniel Karaj

 

Amplify is a recording and playback device for children with selective mutism allowing them to record and playback their voice. Developed in collaboration with mental health charity NAMI, Amplify takes the form of a customisable avatar which allows children to record up to four phrases at home with their parents to playback in social settings.

 

Selective Mutism is an anxiety disorder where children are unable to speak in certain social situations. They suffer from a freeze response and are unable to communicate at all. If left untreated disorder can persist into adulthood.

 

Inspired by the stories of families using apps, flash cards and other communication methods to aid with selective mutism, Amplify not only aids with communication but also with therapy through the process of “desensitisation” and “shaping.” Amplify is worn as a necklace with buttons on the back used to record and playback essential phrases aid children in cases where their disorder is overwhelming.

 

The design of the avatar is customised to match the appearance of the child. This is important for a form of therapy called “self modelling” where children are able to see a version of themselves successfully performing a task.

 

Amplify consists of a wooden shell and simple components with optional features and accessories to be swapped out, manipulating the sounds recordings and introducing concepts from play and music therapy.

 

See LIVE at the Royal College of Art WiP 2021

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