STUDIO / DESIGNER
Accenture The Dock
Team from Accenture The Dock, Design Partners & Amazon
Furniture & Lighting Design
John Moriarty (Designer), Jennifer Sheahan (Designer), Dan Morgan (Designer), Abhijeet Bhatikar (Hardware engineer), Nils Heyman-Dewitte (Hardware engineer), Gino Andre Di Paolo (Software engineer), Karina Dooley (marketing), Joanne Bannon (program lead). // Design Partners: Mathew Bates (Designer), Desmond Kavanagh (Designer), Glyn Griffiths (Design Engineer) // Amazon: Gavin O’ Duffy
Design Challenge and Design Ideas
‘Jacinta’s Chair’ is piece of furniture with embedded Amazon Alexa voice technology, speakers and tactile controls that is designed to enable people with Alzheimer’s to easily access and enjoy music, audiobooks and radio. The concept was developed by Accenture’s The Dock and the final product was designed in collaboration with Design Partners and Amazon.
The Chair was created for Alzheimer’s patient Jacinta Dixon as part of ‘Big Life Fix’ which aired on RTE. Jacinta was diagnosed with a rare form of Alzheimer’s disease in 2017. As a result, she has cannot read, comprehend numbers, or interpret even the most basic user interface or technology. This has a significant impact on her day to day life; she cannot tell the time or interact with objects around her home including her beloved radio and book collection. Our challenge was to enable her to re-connect with her love of reading, radio and music.
How the brief was fulfilled
Through extensive research with Jacinta and her medical team, we started with an understanding of how Alzheimer’s defines and affects how Jacinta she lives her life. One of the biggest challenges in designing a fix for Jacinta was not knowing the trajectory her Alzheimer’s will take, After exploring initial concepts through design sprints at The Dock, we focused on the concept of a smart chair as it ticked the most boxes for Jacinta’s needs.
A challenge however was designing a solution for a person who could not use a typical visual or voice interface. We used Amazon Alexa voice technology in combination with custom tactile controls to address this.
This initial concept was further refined by Design Partners, who also built the final product. Form, ergonomics, materials, fabrics and colour were all tailored for the patient. The interface is simple – three buttons in the armrest allow her to listen to radio, music or a book. Each button uses a different tactile reference so she can link the texture to a particular activity. In this way, activity selection can depend on muscle memory rather than her failing cognitive skills.
The acoustics can be controlled by Jacinta from a volume control dial and stop button on the side of the chair. The speakers are invisibly built into the back of the chair where they are hidden beneath the Chair’s fabric.
The design execution is about the object being interpreted as a beautifully tailored and crafted chair first, with the technology very much in the background. Although full of smart technology, the chair integrates it in such a way that it never compromises on everything a favourite chair in her home needs to be.
Collaboration was central to this project. It was a truly multi-disciplinary effort that spanned different design and technology teams. The concept was developed by Accenture’s The Dock, who oversaw the overall execution and delivery. The physical chair was designed and manufactured by Design Partners, who also worked with Accenture on developing and integrating the electronics. Amazon helped ensure that the Alexa voice experience was as seamless as possible.
Jacinta’s chair is beautifully crafted to bring joy and control to one woman’s every day life with Alzheimers. The UI and design is well executed and integrates technology softly, where a multitude of interactions such as voice and tactile keys collectively help tailor ultimate control for Jacinta. Overall a powerful project in a field rarely in focus by the Furniture or Tech industry"