How can we elevate immigrants' unique family history to something that is protected and preserved?
What It Is
Xenophone is a speaker that is shaped like a mask. Using bone conduction technology, it creates a visceral experience that connects users with their ancestral stories in a tactile way. Upon recording a story with, for instance, their grandmother, the audio file lives within the mask and can be heard only when the user inhabits it.
Through this speculative project, I sought to challenge the status quo whereby immigrants give up their heritage in order to win acceptance. The product elevates immigrants' unique family history to something that is protected and preserved. Especially for 2nd to 3rd generation immigrants who do not have direct experiences of their family's cultural heritage, inhabiting the mask becomes an empowering ritual that encourages users to cherish their family stories that otherwise could get lost.
How It Works
The mask employs a cutting-edge technology called bone conduction. Unlike regular speakers, it conducts sound through a magnetic field, rather than through sound waves, and when pressed against any surface, including one's body, it can turn anything into a speaker. There are speakers and headphones on the market that already employ this technology, where users press devices against their skin to hear music, rather than inserting earbuds in their years. Employing this technology, Xenophone transforms the experience of hearing one's family history into an intimate and tactile one. The user has to wear the mask and inhabit it, in order to hear the story in her bones.
1. Download Xenophone's accompanying app on a smartphone.
2. Open this app with, say, your grandmother, and record her story of how she migrated to the US, a story that might otherwise go untold. Sync the app with the actual Xenophone mask-speaker, so that the audio file is stored within it.
3. Turn on the mask, wear it, and hear grandmother’s story through your bones to connect with with it in an intimate way.
Bone Conduction TEchnology
How Regular Speakers Work
How Bone Conduction Speakers Work