My current research is very much focused on the design of multisensory environments and how active interaction with music and sound can be incorporated into MSEs most effectively. As yet, there are no research informed design principles for creating or adapting multisensory environments to refer to - a problem that UK SEN providers already face routinely when designing and resourcing new spaces. Some Preliminary research into this area has demonstrated that design is generally left to suppliers who will then tend to install similar suites of technologies. It is also quite apparent that many SEN staff are reluctant to use existing MSEs given how challenging they can be to operate and adapt.
Even though there is considerable research based evidence to underline how important a role music and sound should have within MSEs, it is generally the case that music and sound only feature within quite passive modes of interaction; music as a backdrop, SFXs for general reinforcement. Mark Hildred, the Director of Apollo Ensemble (a York based SME designing hardware and software MSE technologies) recognises this broad issue and we are working in partnership to explore this further.
Using a combination of Apollo Ensemble's own software platform and some additional basic prototyping, several research based workshops have been carried out that suggest ways in which alternate modes of interaction with music and sound can be enabled in MSEs. Taking concepts from computer game audio, relatively large theatre black-box spaces have been equipped to enable individuals to interact with music and sound that is adaptive to their actions. We are now contributing to the MSE working group in a local SEN school where we are hoping to begin identifying a core set of design principles that will include a more effective integration of music and sound.