Totally Amazing Mutant Ears
Awards: Mattel Student Summit Best Toy Design
• Product Development
• Physical Computing
• Prototyping / 3D Printing
• 3D Modeling
• Experience Design
• Industrial Design
• Toy Design
Totally Amazing Mutant Ears are sound-collecting headphones that turn every day sounds into completely new and unique aural experiences for the user. By mixing and matching 4 digital distortion modes (reverb, echo, metallic, pitch-shifting effects) the user can orchestrate something out of this world!
This project was developed in partnership with David Bamford and Ben Brown. Out of a brainstorming session, we developed an idea for a toy that took in sound and distorted it to give the user the sense that they were dealing with martians or were on another planet or underwater. I sketched out the ideas below to visualize what the toy might look like.
Hacking together a pair of headphones, some plastic parts and adding an off-the-shelf digital sound processor and microphone, we quickly created a working prototype. It was extremely fun to use and even funnier-looking. We really felt we had a solid direction, and ran with it.
Using ProEngineer, I modeled up a simple clamshell design that would enclose our electronics (battery, circuit board, and microphone.) I designed the parts to mate with a pair of off-the-shelf headphones so we wouldn't have to develop a headstrap which we felt was beyond the scope of our project. The aesthetics were inspired by 60s and 70s Japanese sci-fi and comics like Ultraman.
As part of our presentation to Mattel, we created this video. It cleverly brought together clips from our user testing, added scenarios, and original music and lyrics. We felt it was important to convey the humor and sense of fun of Totally Amazing Mutant Ears. Hope you enjoy!