Sole Music campaign | Communication Arts

Sole Music campaign | Communication Arts

Sole Music campaign | Communication Arts

Responses by Steve De Lange, executive creative director, ‿ and us.

Background: Deaf people can’t hear music, but they can feel it. Sole Music is headphones for your feet: a specially designed insole that can be placed in any shoe that pairs wirelessly with your mobile and lets you play music from any streaming platform. A special transducer translates sound waves you can hear into vibrations you can feel, empowering deaf people to enjoy music anywhere.

Design thinking: We discovered that, somewhat counterintuitively for hearing people, many deaf people experience and enjoy music via tactile sensory input. By placing their hands on large speakers or feeling the vibrations with their bare feet on a resonant surface like a wooden floor, the hearing impaired can experience music too. However, these experiences were previously confined to specific settings; the deaf were deprived of the casual, private and personal experience that hearing people with headphones take for granted. We wanted to create an equivalent casual listening experience for the hearing impaired community.

Challenges: It was very important for us to create a solution that was flexible, robust and cost effective. Insoles have very slender profiles, and seamlessly incorporating a variety of components into a very thin space while also ensuring a comfortable fit and overall resilience required significant trial and error.

New lessons: We quickly discovered that deaf peoples’ tactile perception were leaps and bounds more sensitive and refined that people with normal hearing. Subtleties in vibration imperceptible to hearing people were very obvious to the hearing impaired.

Visual influences: Stylistically, we were inspired by the simple, understated elegance of brands like Apple as well as the boldness and flair of brands like Nike.

Time constraints: Sole Music was a labor of love. As such, we weren’t operating under any specific time limitations other than the desire to realize our vision to create something meaningful for our audience. Our biggest challenge was sourcing appropriate components, specifically a transducer slender enough to fit inside the desired slender profile of our insole.

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