One of the things about meeting students is how they impress us, surprise us and leave us with a sort of wonder. “Did you seriously manage to do that?” we can’t help but ask.
Perhaps it’s because we underestimate youths. We think that because they’re young, they couldn’t possibly yet be capable enough. Or determined enough. Or mature enough. And yet, time and time again, we get proven wrong.
Meeting Lindis Chia, who’s graduating from the Diploma in Product Industrial Design (PID), was one of those times.
I’ll start with a quote given by her external examiner after he evaluated her and her final year project, Occhi e Bocca.
“… in this cohort, you have one student that stand (sic) out as the best student from all two schools (Singapore Polytechnic and Nanyang Polytechnic). Her name is Lindis and her work, maturity and thinking can be compared to students from the National University of Singapore (NUS).”
-Christopher Lim, Industrial Design Manager, Hewlett Packard, Imaging and Printing Group, Global Design Studio
The Occhi e Bocca
The product in question is a camera, specially designed for disabled children.
Basically, it’s a camera that can be use with one hand. The circular, black-rimmed part is the camera, while the trigger is the larger black portion on the side of the handle.
The camera might seem simple, but it was the result of very impressive research Lindis conducted. It wasn’t just the amount of research, but the depth and, more importantly, the heart.
Occhi e Bocca was the product of 1 main issue – how do we help disabled children communicate better?
Children suffering from muscular issues tend to find it difficult to communicate with their family or friends. They can’t speak very well, and what educators usually do is produce picture cards or visualizers to aid with the communication. “Is this what you want?” they’d ask while pointing to an item.
Giving The Children The Power to Speak
Lindis noticed that this sort of communication lacked in two areas – one, was the number of items you can put on cards is, of course, limited. Second was that this puts the responsibility of communication on someone else, rather than the children themselves. The child just “confirms”, but rarely “produces” communication.
Her solution was to make a camera that was easy to use that children could use to snap photos of what they wanted to bring to their loved ones’ attention. She observed that the most basic, and intuitive, action that these children have was to grasp, and thus designed the camera with a handle and a graspable trigger. Also, because many of these children might have only use of one hand, she also designed a rolling-trigger to the head of the camera so that children could scroll through their photos by “rolling” the camera on a part of their body.
Designing With Both Her Mind & Heart
Lindis’ presentation to me reminded me of Apple’s keynote speech when they first introduced the iPhone. Thoughts like “why didn’t someone think of this sooner” and “it just makes so much sense” went through my mind. Though during the iPhone keynote, I wasn’t thinking, “This girl is a student?”
And that’s what betrayed my prejudice. Our students are young, but that’s no reason to look at her as any less capable as “the rest of us”. And she was not just capable – Lindis really cared for the children, and that sets her apart not just from her peers, but arguably from much of the industry as well.
Understandably, she scored tremendously well for this project and we’re more than proud that she graduates as a student of TP.
You can see some of her other projects that she worked on through the years at our Lindis Chia Flickr set.