Bridging music lovers of all ages to endless sources online, MUSY (music easy) brings simplicity back to music-listening. It is playful, interactive yet user-friendly - a home essential and a perfect gift for elderly in the family.
Inspired by a typo my grandmother made in a family group chat, I determined to design something that bridges the technology gap between generations. Understanding that it is not about teaching them how to use online services but creating a shared experience across generations in the family, in person and remotely.
In a workshop I hosted, a group of pensioners were taught how to navigate digital music platforms. Many of them expressed feeling marginalised as most music players have shifted from physical to virtual, and felt hindered by the complex interfaces of these applications. From connecting to the internet, downloading an application, registering an account to exploring the app's functionality, the use of a smart device complicates a simple task - playing music. MUSY, on the other hand, allows them to play their favourite music in three easy gestures, returning to the simple enjoyment of music.
MUSY is composed of two personalisable elements - a block (as know as the playlist) and a base (the music player). To play music, users can simply place the block on the speaker's platform, with each of the surfaces referring to a designated playlist created through their accounts. The different playlists, removable and replaceable when desired, can be organised by pairing customisable stickers on respective surfaces. Once the player is switched on by turning the platform edge, the access to unlimited music sources is unlocked.
Various of online music platforms tend to create a music platform for everyone, yet they have neglected the practical consideration for certain group of users. With MUSY, it brings simplicity back to music, making music streaming more approachable, and tangible.
Research workshop with U3A
How does it work
CustomizationYou can customize your Musy. From choosing or uploading your own illustration/photos, color & shape of the blocks, materials of the speaker etc. A different way to show how special is the gift is.
What if music streaming can be a tangible product, enhancing the interactions among different generations? The project goal is to explore the possibility of bringing music listening back to basic, being inclusive for a broader range of users.
The inspiration behind MUSY sparked from a typo my grandmother made in our family group chat. A lot of elderly are very keen on staying connected to their family's lives and habits through digital platforms, yet the ever-changing technology has become a dividing barrier for them. From connecting to the internet, downloading an application, registering an account to exploring the app's functionality, the use of a smart device complicates a simple task - listening to music.
Pensioners are easily stereotyped as a group of people who are not on trend when it comes to technology or online platform. Yet, a survey has been running for the past 15 years with population aged 75+ indicated that non-internet users have decreased for more than 40% between 2000 to 2015. These figures imply the elderly are keen on using smart devices with the guidance. However, constant automatic updates and application software changes are critical for seniors. It may lead users back to family, store or community centre for assistance.
Even though technologies are well-supported by network connecting system, customer service support and multi-channel, the design of most smart devices omit the physical user experience either by the size of the actual product or the interface design. Taking my grandmother as an example, it took her some effort to type within the limited monitor space. Given 8 million people in the UK are having osteoarthritis and 3 million people have the visual impairment, current smart devices have neglected the physical hindrance of this group of users.
Considering the rapid growth in ageing population, technology is emerging to everyday's life in a swift manner, how can we bridge intangible technologies with physical products for pensioners?
The philosophy of MUSY is to bridge music lovers of all ages and background to the online music world - bringing simplicity back to music. Share and express one's caring to the beloved one through music. My initial idea was to create a home essential and a present for the family member. It is playful yet user-friendly, and without reliance on smart devices. By integrating the limitless digital music database into one single player, MUSY makes music easy. It can be your country guitarist in a Sunday afternoon, transform into a jazz performer as you and your loved ones enjoy a romantic home-cook dinner, or even become an entire classical orchestra when you spend quality time with yourself.
The research of MUSY was carried out in 3 phases - interview, observation through user interaction and focus group.
The first phase of research was done with an exploratory approach, trying to identify how technology immerges into pensioners daily life and their attitude towards this trend. Interviews were carried out at the community centre, museum and parks in London area (UK). The result shows that music is a common leisure for seniors. Some of them are relying on the traditional medium such as concert, radio and CD. Yet, some interviewees are keen on using smart devices to extend their choice of music. They are likely to use smartphones once they learn about it. However, automatic updates and application software changes will hold back users or rely on their family of service provider for constant assistance.
Further industry and marketing research was carried out after a series of interviews, mainly focusing on the comparative advantage of existing speakers and the devices with voice-recognition function.
The final stage of research aims to identify what are the challenges and difficulties that seniors are facing when accessing the digital music platform. With this, I held a workshop in collaboration with The University of Third Age. The focus group is formed by participants with age above 65. In the first part of the workshop, my team and I guided them on how to use online music platform i.e. Spotify from downloading the app to creating a playlist. We aimed to assess their obstacles when enjoying the music from the digital platform. In the second part of the workshop, we presented the idea of MUSY and held a brainstorm section, focusing on user experience, feedback on the physical object and product concept.
Prototyping & User testing
Iterate prototyping was the key to the design process. Changes and refinement were made after got the feedback from the public in the school work in progress show, local community centre and the focus research group.
How does MUSY work
MUSY allows users to enjoy the digital music world with a physical touch. With the system comprising an NFC reader configured to build in wifi, the registered online music platform account will configure a playlist on an actual music player. Even without technical assistance or knowledge, users are able to enjoy the online music world.
MUSY can be personalized for your beloved one. You can personalize the playlists illustrations so that they can easy to visualize it, the colour of the block or even the material of the speaker. It is easy to set up, share and edit your playlist just with simple moves. MUSY is not only a music player but also a way to show your care to your family members.