About

The Somantics concept is a a suite of applications that use touch, gesture and camera input to encourage, capture and amplify the interests of young people with Autistic Spectrum Conditions and other related communication difficulties. The overarching goal of Somantics is promote greater self-awareness, confidence and independence.

You can download Somantics for the iPad for free from the Apple iPad Store.

You can find the source code for Somantics on the Hellicar&Lewis GitHub site.

Somantics is available for the iPad and iPad2. An iPad2 will be required for camera based interaction, iPad1 users may still download and use the touch based Somantics. Desktop and laptop machines require a Microsoft Kinect or compatible device to function. Please see the Download page for more details.

Interaction with Somantics is repetitious, flowing and highly expresssive. The applications are non-competitive; users discover their own purpose. The Somantics interface enables users choose an application and to exlpore with little, if any, assistance from others. Independence will increase through further exploration of the system.

Somantics has been developed by a research and design team with many years experience of developing interfaces that help develop creativity. The design has involved children and adults on the autism spectrum, who have revealed previously unseen creative ability through they design ideas and use of Somantics.

Somantics functions as a tool for researchers, teachers, parents and practitioners; it is available for use across educational, community and clinical settings. Somantics helps us to better understand how the interests individuals with autism spectrum conditions may lead to novel opportunities for personal expression and the desire to communicate with others. In this way, we all learn how to communicate using art and gesture as well as words.

Somantics was a winner of the Making Waves competition sponsored by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills and the Technology Strategy Board, managed by JISC Techdis.

Somantics is co-produced by Dr. Wendy Keay-Bright (UWIC), Joel Gethin Lewis and Pete Hellicar of Hellicar & Lewis, and Interaction Designer Marek Bereza.

Wendy Keay-Bright

Wendy is Reader in Inclusive Design at Cardiff School of Art and Design. Her award-winning software programme, ReacTickles, has captured the imagination of children and adults on the autism spectrum, as well as their teachers and therapists, from all around the world. Her research projects have attracted funding from NESTA, ESRC/EPSRC, the National Film Board of Canada, and the Rayne Foundation. Somantics represents her ongoing collaboration with the Interaction Design Community and is funded by the Higher Education Academy, BIS, TechDis and JISC. Whilst Wendy’s projects have many different outputs, they share a participatory design ethos, as she is committed to including some of the most hard to engage children throughout development. Wendy is a Trustee of Autism Cymru and an Associate of the Autism Centre for Education Research. In addition to the project management and design research for Somantics, Wendy will be liaising with stakeholders, organising school, adult centre and FE collaboration, including running the Labs and working with Darren Walker on the evaluation.

Joel Gethin Lewis

Joel has been working in the field of interaction design since 1997. His clients include IBM, Rem Koolhaus, Nokia and the Victoria & Albert Museum. Joel was interaction designer for United Visual Artists between 2005-2008, going on to co-found Hellicar & Lewis in 2009. Joel oversees creative and technical development, as well as being responsible for the programming of the Somantics website. Joel is also leading relations between the team and the wider programming community, championing the project through conferences and other media.

Pete Hellicar

Pete has over twenty years of experience as an Art Director and Set Designer, working with companies from a wide variety of sectors, including Nike, Etnies and Lacoste. Pete will be working with Wendy, Joel and Marek to create the Somantics brand, including the look and feel of the interaction, and overall identity for Somantics. Pete has also designed the navigation and interface for iPad Apps, online web Gallery and non-digital materials.

Marek Bereza

Marek has been working as an interaction designer for the last three years, since graduating from the Royal College of Art. His recent clients include Vimeo, Nokia and Universal Pictures. Marek is responsible for user interface programming, digital signal processing, computer vision processing using openCV, graphics programming using OpenGL ES and GLSL and Apple specific code in Cocoa/Objective C.

Joshua Noble

Joshua is a designer and researcher based in Copenhagen. Though his undergraduate studies were in cognitive science and childhood learning, he has worked as a programmer and interaction designer for the past eight years. During this time he has worked with clients such as Disney and Adobe, as well as on projects for small museums and recently diagnosed diabetes. Joshua has written four books on creative coding and design. He brings to Somantics a particular interest in how computer vision and interaction design can assist in the evolution of positive learning experience for children with autism spectrum conditions.

Darren Walker

Darren is a cognitive psychologist at UWIC, with an interest in applying theoretical insights from memory, attention and perception to practical applications. He has expertise in accessibility and interface evaluation for products such as Phones and PDAs. He is currently developing novel methods (e.g. video observation and eye-tracking) to understand behaviour in ‘real-world’ tasks. Darren takes overall responsibility for evaluation tools and methods, working with Quality Assurance stakeholders.

Ben Milne

Ben trained as an animator and is now Head of Creative Curriculum at Ashgrove School working with children of all ages in creative activities that include film and model-making, art and design, music and drama. Ben has been working with his creative curriculum students to assist in the ideation and creation of Somantics.