Nowadays children aged 3-4 spend fewer hours per week playing physical games (statistics reveal that in 2018 physical activity has come down to about 6 hours, since 2016 where it was close to 7 hours in 2016). Children as young as 3-4 years continue to spend the highest proportion of their time watching TV, followed by going online and then playing games on hand held devices.
Seek is an autonomous device for children that encourages physical play through digital games. It is coded and designed to choose a path at random making every game session a new adventure. Once the device has been activated and the game has been started, the interactive screens guide the child a designated location.
Product Design, Prototyping (Tramontana), User Testing
Kids as young as 2 year old are seen constantly interacting with digital screen based devices. They are surrounded by screens and most of their interaction with the world around them happens through these screens leaving very little scope for physical interaction. Many parents try to enforce strict screen time and set strict rules to regulate usage.
According to pediatricians: “Young children (2 - 6 year old) should not have screen time more than 2 hrs. If they do, they should also spend at least an hour on exercise”
How can we leverage the engagement kids feel with digital technology to get them to perform physical activity.
We used the random() function to create an array (library) of paths. Each time the random() function is called, it returns an unexpected value within the specified range. This way we could create multiple paths for the game within the same code.
These paths were then given avatars to differentiate them for the final game.
We experimented using the phones altitude (motion sensor) and playing with the values of roll, pitch and yaw to change the colour of the screen when the phone is turned on the respective axis.
The same values were then used to display the various interactive screens for the final game. As the device is rotated on it’s respective axis, the designated image is displayed on the screen.
HOW IT WORKS
Once the child hits the START button the avatar on the screen goes through a ready, set, go sequence to indicate the beginning of the day’s adventure.
When it’s time to change directions Seek prompts the child to rotate the device - like a compass looking for directions until it prompts which way to turn.
Once the adventure is complete the avatar jumps with joy and the child can claim their treat. After which Seek will switch off and only activate after 24hrs have passed.
We had the opportunity to test the Seek game with a few children at the Boys and Girls Club in San Francisco. The main objective of conducting user testing was to study which attributes and aspects of the game kids enjoy and how it can be refined it further.
7 Kids (aged 6 - 12)
OBSERVATIONS (what worked well)
5 out of 7 were able to follow the start and rotate instructions
Kids were curious to play the game and wanted to try it repeatedly.
Kids were learning how to play by observing their peers
OPPORTUNITIES (what can be improved)
Some kids had difficulty in following all the instructions
Written instructions are not enough to prompt action and movement
Form can be improved ergonomically in terms of grip and screen size
Working with new technology comes with it’s own challenges. With this project I really enjoyed pushing the boundaries. I loved experimenting with the Processing and Tramontana platforms to see what we could create.
We were able to leverage digital engagement to perform physical activity but designing for physical interactions also proved challenging. During our user testing we learnt that when designing we hadn’t considered the limitations of the physical space. Being able to test the game with the desired audience, validated our ideas and indicated the features that needed to be improved.