Students’ ‘Sociometer’ named design success

Images by Kevin Sinclair

A device designed to measure the amount of time people spend on their phones in a traditional Scottish pub has won a prestigious design award in Shenzhen, China.

Three students from the University of Dundee have landed themselves a top spot in the Shenzhen Design Award for Young Talents, an international UNESCO competition.

Their device, called the ‘Sociometer’, has the look of a seismograph and records the bandwidth data being used by phones on graph paper. Visually capturing how many patrons are on their phones rather than indulging in a pint and patter.

The team, Tiernan Haugh, Jamie Spratt and Campbell Scanlan, are all currently studying at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design (DJCAD) at the University. They were inspired by the 120-year-old Speedwell Bar, known locally as Mennies, to capture this social phenomenon.

Installed into the bar for a short time, the ‘Sociometer’ was able to show how even at peak times, people are still using their phones.

Tiernan, a digital interaction design student, said, “People anecdotally talk about how younger generations are becoming more content spending time on their phones than indulging in conversation, so we wanted to design something to measure that.

“We specifically chose the Speedwell Bar because it was recently voted Dundee’s ‘Best Community Bar’ – we thought it was fitting to install a device that could reduce the distraction of our phones by highlighting the amount we use them in a social setting.”

Jamie Spratt, a product design student, said, “It’s called the ‘Sociometer’ because it shows how social people actually are in traditional boozers. It’s a conversation starter and is able to capture how different generations use Scottish pubs.”

Image: Kevin Sinclair

Campbell Scanlan, a product design student, said, “We are delighted to win such a great international award for craftsmanship. We are excited to keep working together as designers and have high hopes of installing the ‘Sociometer’ back into Speedwells.”

Anna Day, Manager of UNESCO City of Design Dundee, said, "We are delighted by this success and it was great that all three of the designers went to Shenzhen to collect the award in person.

“We already have strong links with the UNESCO City of Design team in Shenzhen and this further strengthens the bond. We look forward to working with the Chinese Cities of Design in the future, on more collaborations.”

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University of Dundee
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