Tatchi is a gaming platform that can be played by both sighted and visually impaired individuals, creating an environment in which everyone can have an enjoyable experience. A gaming platform is like cards or a video game console - it can support various games or rules but the devices are the same. Tatchi comes with a few games built in but allows users to install their own games to play as well.
This product was created by Green Team in MIT's 2.009 class. During user testing, we discovered that visually impaired people found it hard to socialize with sighted people. This was especially concerning in a school context, where children are still developing social skills. Green Team saw this as an opportunity to create a product aiming to bridge this disconnection.
My main role throughout the process was making UI/UX, branding, and industrial design decisions. This included the overall look and feel of the final product and the packaging.
The main tools for playing on Tatchi are wooden tiles. The tiles have patterns that are laser-etched on both sides so players are able to feel instead of see which orientation the tiles are in, which is crucial in gameplay. Our decision to use wood as the material was based on feedback we got from user testing. According to visually impaired users, wood has a much nicer "feel" to it than plastics or metals.
I tested different patterns and textures for the tiles before deciding the final ones. I also helped to decide which kind of wood and stain would look best for our product.
The centerpiece stores all of the electronics, and primarily uses audio for its user interaction. It has an on/off button and three buttons with embossed indicators on them. The center valley has an RFID reader and can detect when users scan the tiles directly over it. The centerpiece can recognize which tile is scanned, allowing for more complexity when making games.
I designed the overall geometry and aesthetic for the centerpiece. I prioritized user interaction of the visually impaired, resulting in a simple geometry that can be easily recognized by touch. I also avoided sharp corners and obstructions in arm reach.
A challenge was making the centerpiece from plastic but also make the product seem cohesive as a whole. To resolve this, I decided to incorporate wooden accents and use a warm off-white plastic.
At the end of the semester, all the 2.009 teams finally present their projects! We presented Tatchi with the help of Paul, a MIT faculty member who is blind. For more details, check out our presentation slides below, which includes an informative short video.