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Global Innovation Design (MA)

Sophie Horrocks

Sophie Horrocks is a human-centred designer and researcher focusing on improving human quality of life through intuitive and inclusive design of experiences and environments.



Before her Master’s, Sophie worked as a lead designer and researcher at The Fabrick Lab; a Hong-Kong based textile studio, consultancy and ideological lab.

Clients and exhibitions included Kering, Lane Crawford, Design Trust, Salone del Mobile.


MA/MSc Global Innovation Design (RCA & ICL) – Distinction 

BA Textile Design (Manchester School of Art) – First Class Honours 

Foundation Diploma in Art and Design (Central Saint Martins)


Sophie’s work has gained international recognition across commercial and academic platforms; including exhibitions, public speaking and academic publications. 

Selected Exhibitions & Events

2020 - Speaker at GID Symposium

2020 - Sensaura Feature, Imperial News

2020 - WIP Show Exhibition, RCA, London 

2019 - Guest Speaker, Higashi High School, Yokohama 

2018 - Shortlisted, IDEO CoLab, London 

2018 - Nock Art Gallery Exhibition, Hong Kong 

2017 - GK Gallery Solo Exhibition, Manchester 

2016 - New Designers Exhibition, Business Design Centre, London 

2013-16 - Academic Scholarship, Manchester School of Art  


Wijaya, M., Lau, D., Horrocks, S., McGlone, F., Ling, H., & Schirmer, A. (2019). The Human “Feel” of Touch Contributes to Its Perceived Pleasantness. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance. 


Find out more here. 





Grab a Virtual Coffee with Sophie

Degree Details

School of Design

Global Innovation Design (MA)


Sensaura is an ongoing project looking for partners and collaborators for future development. To date, it has gained widespread interest from stakeholders across fields of urban planning, future mobility, neuropsychology and psychoacoustics. 

Please get in touch for more details.



“The design of our world has the power to enable or disable all of us.”

Through GID, Sophie has combined her deep interest in neuropsychology with her skills as a problem-solving designer to provide solutions to global challenges in human health and wellbeing.

Working across three continents has increased her empathy towards local cultures whilst acknowledging human universals. This has enabled the engagement and synthesis of empathy-driven and evidence-based research to inform her practice. 

Her practice strives to understand how design can improve human quality of life through delightful and inclusive interventions.

Her design solutions are contextualised within wearable technology, human-computer interaction design, design education and design research. In all her work, the human is placed at the heart of both her design process and outcome.

The course has allowed her to ground ideologies of an inclusive future with a rigorous understanding of actionable steps to take in order to achieve this.

Sensaura Short Film
How can we navigate the world without sight?

In the U.K. today, nearly 2 million people are living with sight loss. This figure is set to double by 2050. Sensaura is an inclusive design solution to how blind and partially sighted people can navigate the world beyond vision. The wearable design proposes an integrated solution to enable detection, processing and feedback of environmental information needed for navigation. This allows independent, hands-free travel of indoor and outdoor spaces for blind and partially sighted people.

Sensaura’s combined sensors translate visual information into a multi-sensory augmented reality experience of spatial audio and tactile feedback. Test subjects have said this experience gave them a feeling of having an “extra sense”. The wearable could work independently or connect to a wider network of beacons in the environment when GPS is unavailable.

Sensaura applies inclusive design principles. This not only offers a human-centred design solution to the 2 million people in the U.K. currently living with sight loss but has the potential to transform hands-free navigation for millions of people worldwide beyond this user group.

In Collaboration with:

Voice Over
Future MobilityFuture of HealthcareFuture of Urban LivingFutures DesignHealth and WellbeingHuman-centeredHumanised TechnologyInclusiveInclusive DesignMultisensoryMultisensory ExperiencesPerception

Sensaura Wearable

Schematic of Wearable

Sensaura Neckpiece
Sensaura Earpiece

Optional Finishes of Wearable Earpiece

Optional Finishes of Wearable Neckpiece

User Journey Pt 1

User Journey Pt 2

Sensaura System Architecture
Sensaura's Spatial Audio Experience
Sensaura’s wearable device is designed to enhance hands-free use. It combines camera and radar sensors to detect visual information in the environment. This enables object identification and lower body detection of obstacles, drops and steps - something no market option currently offers.


Jan – Jun 2020

In Collaboration with:

Computational Design of Wearable
Audio Design of Soundbites

Thomas Pocklington Focus Group Photos and Feedback

Neuropsychology Research

Spatial Audio Development

Hardware Design Development

Global research with blind and partially sighted users was carried out in Tokyo, New York and London. This process identified the global problem faced by this community of how to navigate not only independently, but intuitively.

One user stated that they were “only disabled by the design of our environment”. We might not be able to redesign the entire environment, but more easily, we can design our perception of the environment.

Current assistive technologies for navigation have focussed on how to detect and process visual information from the environment. Sensaura takes a different approach by starting with the ideal goal of what a fully inclusive and accessible future would be and working backwards from that; placing the human user at the heart of its process to ensure a desirable and sustainable solution.

Engaging blind and partially sighted users throughout the design process verified the project’s relevance. This included a focus group run in partnership with the Thomas Pocklington Trust. Additionally, deep research into neuropsychology theories of sensory perception and sensing technologies has ensured rigour. This was enhanced by consultations from the Next Generation Neural Interfaces Lab at Imperial.


Jan - Jun 2020

In Collaboration with:

Focus Group Collaboration
Barrier Free Living (BFL) Room Transformation
T.I.D.E. (Trauma Informed Design Essentials) Stop Motion

T.I.D.E. Toolkit - Modular Building Blocks

T.I.D.E. Toolkit - Light Tool

T.I.D.E. Toolkit - Colour Palette

T.I.D.E. Toolkit - Abstract Objects

Stakeholder Map

Customer Journey Map

How might we democratise design to promote the use of trauma-informed design principles?

T.I.D.E. (Trauma Informed Design Essentials) aims to democratise design theory to promote the use of trauma-informed design principles for NGOs . The project stemmed from Sophie’s own experience of researching, designing and implementing an interior design project using these principles for an NGO in the Bronx, NY – Barrier Free Living (BFL).

Research shows that our environment can impact both our mental and physical health. What you see, hear and experience at any moment changes not only your mood and stress levels, but how your nervous, endocrine and immune systems work.

Unpleasant environments can cause sadness/ helplessness. This elevates blood pressure, heart rate, and muscle tension and suppresses your immune system. Pleasing environments can reverse this.

BFL houses and supports people with disabilities who have survived domestic violence. BFL staff asked Sophie to redesign their staff room using Trauma-Informed Design theories, to promote mental and physical wellbeing for staff and residents. The room required a multifunctional design meeting all accessibility needs without permanently changing any of the room’s infrastructure.

Noticing the lack of tools available to NGOs to explain Trauma-Informed Design theory – T.I.D.E. was born. The interactive toolkit hopes to make trauma-informed design theory more accessible. It enables NGOs to physically look and play with their spaces, to maximise the benefit for users. They can easily move and change their design ideas for how to improve their space without having to use expensive digital software.

T.I.D.E. aims to:
1/ inspire NGOs to use trauma-informed design principles
2/ translate design language and theory into practical experiences
3/ recognise budget, manpower and resource limitations of NGOs

Each component of the toolkit is inspired by an interior design theory. For example, the torch and compass replicate the sun moving around at different times of day and year in a small handheld tool.

The service blueprint shows how the toolkit could be developed for commercialisation. This would offer a tailored experience with variable components to meet the context-specific needs of each user.


Sept – Dec 2019

In Collaboration with:

Barrier Free Living is a NY-based NGO. T.I.D.E. was born from Sophie's experience volunteering as a designer for them. Follow link to see featured interview of process.

SpaceTime - An Interactive Audio-Tactile Weekly Planner

Designed for Older Generations in the Transition of Losing Sight

Early Prototype Drawings

The Sound of Time

User Journey Pt. 1

User Journey Pt. 2

How can we manage time with other senses, beyond just vision?

Reimagining how we interact with time in a spatial manner, beyond vision. An interactive analogue calendar which uses sound and tactility to enable management of weekly tasks and activities. Designed for older generations in the transition of losing sight (population of people living with sight loss set to double by 2050).

Losing your sight is a scary and life changing experience to go through. Research with users highlighted that whilst adapting to new ways of life with little or no vision, it is important to try to maintain as active and social a life as possible to avoid depression and isolation. In order to do this, you need to be able to manage time without using sight.
The only current market options are smartphone audio description or large print paper calendars which require a certain level of sight. SpaceTime fills a market gap to provide a human-centred experience in which to manage and organise time without vision. It draws from historical forms of time-telling; from old sundials to old sailors' watch systems which used sound to communicate time to sailors on their watch.

Blind and partially sighted users were consulted throughout the design process; ensuring a desirable and viable solution. The final prototype was tested at Visions Charity in New York with 10 users.


Sept - Dec 2019

In Collaboration with:

User Focus Group with Vision's Charity in New York.

Humanness — a research project Sophie established in partnership with professors from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. It investigated the human “feel” of touch and how it contributes to perceived pleasantness. The research was published in 2019 in the Journal of Experimental Psychology (American Psychological Association). Sophie set up a cross-disciplinary team to draw from expertise in design, robotics engineering and neuropsychology. The study revealed an overlap in the perceptual properties of touch that we perceive as pleasant and human (e.g. CT-optimal velocity, smooth contact) and showed that both perceptions are strongly positively related.

Morphe — an ongoing research study - run in both Japan and the US with native participants. It investigates the relationships between 3D material perception, culture, language and emotion. Current research into cross-modal material perception does not consider the types of research information into material psychology that would be practical for designers. Morphology (Morphe) is both the study of the form of “things” and the form of words. Morphe provides a library of material research directly related and transferable for designers; enabling more designers to create with greater sensitivity to context, culture and cross modalities.

The Architecture of Touch — Distinction Awarded RCA Dissertation. Touch is a universal language. Yet there is no common language for the subject of touch. The Architecture of Touch aimed to fill that gap – particularly for the field of assistive technology where it can add weighted impact. The paper personified touch to show how it travels from outside the body, through the boundary of our skin and into our brains - drawing on perspectives across design, philosophy, neuroscience throughout this journey. It combines storytelling with science to provide all parties involved (in progressing our understanding of touch) to view perspectives outside of their own; promoting the ability to drive the industry towards a more inclusive and optimal future.

This section summarises a number of research projects investigating multi-sensory perception of human experiences. They are all founded on the belief that bettering our understanding of our psychological relationship with the designed world – we can not only improve our understanding of humans but design a more intuitive world.


Sept 2018 - Present

In Collaboration with:

Professor of Social and Affective Neuroscience at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Automation Engineering at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
Launch Project

Click "Launch Project" to find Press Pack information.

Please follow the link to find more information on the available Press Pack.

In Collaboration with:

30 July 2020
15:00 (GMT + 0)

GID Graduates Present: Humanising Technology x More than Human Design

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