Blinktwice- Tango Case Study



For people with communication challenges, a simple conversation continues to be one of the most difficult activities in which to participate. Communication can be extremely difficult and frustrating, especially when using the current complicated and unintuitive tools. Blink Twice set out to create tango!, a new speech-generating device that was easy to use and supported multiple forms of communication. 


Discover: Analysis Becomes Insight

The daily life of an AAC user is already filled with complex assistance devices, so the focus was on simplicity and ergonomics. Existing devices were both visually and functionally complex, as well as emotionless and awkward to use.Developing a product to help enable real-time conversations with others enhance an AAC users’ ability to build personal relationships and gain mainstream social acceptance.

Design: Insights Become Ideas

The design leverages years of user research and competitive product analysis. Once immersed in the culture and lifestyle of an AAC user, the exterior’s iconic design appeared almost immediately. The design breakthrough came to life as a simple napkin sketch during a brainstorming session with Richard Ellenson, founder of Blink Twice. Refining surfaces, button actuation, light, and sound took months of extensive tweaking and testing. A mix of soft and hard buttons were required to meet the different styles of usage: drag, pound, or peck.A totally new language structure was developed to provide quick access to topics and relevant vocabulary. Users can switch from nearly 2,500 intuitively organized and customizable phrases to word selection or spelling keyboards for more specific communication. The interface is so intuitive that a sentence that would take minutes of hunting-and-pecking to program on other devices can now be spoken at the push of a button. This is achieved through novel scanning patterns and dozens of scripts that promote social interaction, created expressly for tango! by industry experts Caroline Musselwhite and Linda Burkhart.c1.jpg

Deliver: Ideas Become Reality

The variety of auditory attributes sets tango! worlds apart from the robotic voices used on current devices. Voice morphing allows users to better express the emotions through a whisper, shout, or whine. The holistic experience of this device is augmented through peripheral features, such as the industry’s first camera/photo album, high-fidelity speakers, and various-aged voices. tango! is a consumer electronic product, for a very unique group of consumers.The tango! device became a reality through working collaboratively with the product development team at Flextronics, a worldwide contract manufacturer. The combined teams worked through thousands of functional details from electronic and physical components, materials, prototyping, and tooling.


tango! is the first speech-generating device to combine a variety of communication methods, and incorporate a built-in digital camera. With an intuitive interface that anyone can start using immediately, tango! enables people to experience the power of communication without confronting the complexities.The device promises to advance the way other manufacturers think about and develop assistive technology and sets a new bar for product elegance and usability. Its form, interface, and features have all been sculpted specifically to allow its users to communicate freely in today’s society. The tango! is proof that emotional and thoughtful design not only makes the world a more beautiful place, but can enable people to do the things that most of us take for granted — communicate and forge relationships with one another.


1 Comment»

  Ewa Maciukiewicz wrote @


If possible can you tell me how you are associated with AAC and how you came about this information. Thank you.

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