Tactility toys for a universal audience: TextureSnaps


Just finished. The project was based off of designing for the blind (that’s the audience that we did research with and consulted throughout the project), but was meant to be a universal product since specialized products are uneconomic.

I approached the project with the mindset to educate through textures (braille, etc), but the braille fell by the wayside when I realized that resolving input/output/feedback of braille was extremely difficult and should be left to traditional teaching methods.

So I ended up resolving TextureSnaps: toys you can explore/experiement with/combine with each other to compare textures. It not only serves as an educational toy, but as a desk toy/reference for designers/cool people.

Very interesting.
How did you go about creating the other plastic looking pieces?
Are they foam core, or do they made of other materials throughout?

It is intriguing, but it took me a couple minutes to really understand what they were for (and I still don’t quite understand why a product like this should be made). If your research clearly shows there’s a problem like this, I genuinely applause your discovery of an unexplored learning tool

I had a couple questions though: why are they shaped the way they are? Just from glancing at the shapes without reading much of the text, I actually assumed they snapped onto objects like bags of chips, so a blind person could ID the contents before opening… Why do they snap together too? i’m interested why this would help a blind person. Also, why is the experience of touching new objects difficult for a blind person? there are wooden, plastic, metal, etc, objects all over most houses…

I’ve really enjoyed your blog btw, so I am sure there is some interesting thought behind your concept. I just wanted to mention the things I didn’t immediately catch when I looked at it

The results of the project came out of a lot of different directions / findings / goals, and I guess it turned into a bit of a confused heap at the end.

The need: yes, those materials are commonly found in the house, but these snaps are a collection available in cohesive forms so that you can learn about/experience the materials in a “balanced” way. Although not shown (due to time restraints), each collection (Box) would come with additional information about each material: what it does, what it’s used for, etc. One would be able to learn about the materials from this. The form allows the snaps to snap together so that you can compare the differences between two materials: texture, smell, etc. Also, the materials shown are just the core set. This is just a gateway for other extensions: such as a set of rocks (volcanic, etc), or natural materials such has bark,sand, etc.

This was mostly an exploration of how I could use textures/toys (not textured toys that are out on the market… with simulated bumps, etc, but actual textures from the real world) in order to educate about materials, as well as provide a conversation piece. Keep in mind that this is not a blind product, but a product that is inclusive of blind people (they just happened to be the people we had correspondence with during the project). This could be used by any one. I could see this on the desk of someone, and they’d display it, or as a educational piece in a montessori classroom.

Unfortunately, due to the legality of things, I was unable to test these/have any contact with children throughout the project. Which probably limited my development toward that market. But this is intended for many ages.

KGB: These were either crafted out of wood or foam by hand, and simulating materials through finishes/sprays.