Akarsh Sanghi's 'Grasp' is a shoulder-mounted device that makes remote-learning physical by putting your teacher on your shoulder.
For engineer and designer Akarsh Sanghi, the lack of a hands-on approach to remote learning could be what's holding you back from turning your bedroom quarters into a real-time learning environment. For his Master’s thesis at Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design, Sanghi created Grasp, a “wearable device which can enable cross-distance learning and communication between a mentor and a learner,” according to Sanghi, that, like a hawkeyed professor, takes the metaphor of "looking over your shoulder" literally.
Controlled via smartphone app, Grasp allows teachers to monitor, communicate with, and even use a laser pointer to direct their students, all from the comfort of their very own shoulder blades. “The idea was to learn new skills which are more physical in nature-like craftsmanship and require step-by-step instruction,” Sanghi tells The Creators Project. “In the 21st century when we are surrounded by digital devices and are occupied by a screen most of the time for every possible activity, I wanted to explore how can we break away from this cycle to learn something in a more organic and natural way.”
After 8 weeks of work on the project, the result is a design intervention that gives mentors a first-person point of view of their students' work. Teachers can communicate using the speaker and microphone combo, and using a digital joystick on the app, guide the laser pointer to provide step-by-step instructions for students.
“The scope of the current version of the project was to spark a debate on how traditional learning scenarios can be changed and learning as we know it can be completely decentralized from its current form,” says Sanghi. So will your teachers soon sit perched up on your shoulder? “There are certain limitations to the current version of the prototype like size, comfort while wearing it, weight etc.,” he admits, that prevent the project from becoming immediately viable. But it’s only a matter of time: in the future, Sanghi states, the kind of “on demand learning” brought about by Grasp could “change the way an entire generation of designers, engineers, artists, doctors, craftsmen would be trained or would learn a new skill.”