In the near future technologies will be even more present in every day objects, which should add a playful value for children, to make use of their natural interest to play while being socially and physically active. We have moved towards this direction by building on free-play experiences identified through a face-to-face ethnographical study conducted over 4 months. The study shows that, beyond the increase of screen based entertainment, children have scarce opportunities for free-play (leading to them being more sedentary). Moreover during free play, they combine the interest of an individual activity, with a personal challenge, while collaborating and competing. Based on these findings we propose augmenting accessories with sensor systems giving feedback while doing specific body challenges. We have developed and tested few prototypes based on this concept: shoes that blink while jumping and a fanny pack that blinks while moving, among others.
Statue is a fanny pack that blinks and makes sound whenever the user moves. Statue stimulates children to play games related with being a statue or moving without being noticed, which are commonly played by children, according to our ethnographical observations. It is inspired in many folk games, which include being statue. According to our evaluations, the accessory added a new condition in their everyday settings that encouraged transforming their frequent games. Social interaction emerged by slightly modifying the rules in a social dynamics that challenged power, leadership and creativity, they also practiced body language, imitations and small talks.
FeetUp is a pair of shoes that blinks and makes sound whenever the user jumps, or is off the ground. FeetUp stimulates children to play against gravity, one of their most frequent activities during free-play. According to our evaluations, with FeetUp each found his/her personal style to play with the accessory; doing ballet, capoeira, handstands and so on. This led children to associate with someone with whom they had a common interest, shared their knowledge and tried to improve their performance together, generating challenging social experiences.
Musical clothes are musical instruments embedded in every day clothes. The use of those clothes allows you to play sounds while moving. The set includes a t-shirt that can play a trumpet while moving your arm, or a bracelet that play drums while moving your wrist and shoes that play car sounds by stepping. However kids always find different things to play with every sound. Musical clothes are designed to encourage fantasy play and musical collaboration among school children.
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