A Childrens Construction Kit for Building Interactive Play Spaces
The P-Buddy Kit is composed of a set of simple robust sensors and output devices that children can add to their existing play space and toys. With it children can build simple playroom surprises, games for themselves to play, and interactive fantasy spaces. Even with the most basic elementsa single sensor and output devicea child can create engaging surprises for friends. For instance, a proximity sensor and a speaker on a chair might be used to make a digital whoopee cushion. A child can use sensors that observe her environment. These sensors might used to create many kinds of appealing toys, such a sister spy sensor or a pet monitoring system. More complex and sophisticated interactions can be built by combining multiple inputs and outputs. Children to build treasure hunts for their friends or enhance fantasy worlds and play. They can build puzzles based on a particular sequence of behavior. These games might be similar to sequence repetition games like Simon or Boppit in which children repeat the sequences the machines generate, except that children could use their entire bodies and entire rooms and design the interaction themselves.
In this example scenario, a room was transformed into a fantasy treasure hunt in a jungle. When the door was first opened, the children would hear jungle sounds. After a few moments, a speaker behind a stuffed bird said, Find my egg. The children would search for the egg and when they picked it up, their action would be sensed by a light sensor. The bird then said, Warm my egg. The children would put the egg in the birds nest, which was sensed by another light sensor. Then a chair said, Allie is hungry. The children decided that Allie must be the cutout of an alligator on the trashcan. They would throw the egg in the trash, a distance sensor would sense the movement, and the LED eyes of the alligator would blink. As the alligator would say, yummy, a servo would make the alligators mouth chew the egg. Finally, creatures all over the room would howl, bark and cackle.
Each sensor or output device is embedded into a small creature called a Programabuddy or P-Buddy. A P-Buddy is plush fabric creature approximately 5 inches high. All P-Buddies, (except two, which will be discussed later) have a dial and button as controls and a small LED embedded between the antennae as a display. The dial is a foot at the bottom of the creature.
Children can program the sequence of the interaction between the inputs and outputs, along with the sensitivity of the sensors and the content of the display of the outputs. Both sensors and outputs can be used multiple times by simply activating them again later in a sequence. The sequence of sensors and outputs is programmed by the order the individual P-balls are activated. When a child wishes to run the sequence, he presses the single button a special P-ball called the P-Mama. This device is a master switch for starting and stopping the interaction. The Programama also contains electronics that coordinate all of the sensors and output activity.
All sensors are programmed in the same way. First, the button is pressed to indicate that this sensor is the next in the sequence. Then, the dial in the foot is turned until the appropriate threshold is reached. Reaching threshold is indicated by the LED on the device. Once a sensor is programmed, a child can then activate the next P-Buddy in the sequence by pressing the dial on that second creature.
The following sensors are available:
The following devices are available for output:
The output devices work in a similar fashion to the sensors. First, the child presses the button to activate the output next in the sequence. Then, he turns the dial or, in the case of the speaker, presses a second button, to program the content of the output. The content of each output device is programmed slightly differently. To program the LED, the child would turn Programaball upside down to reveal circular rainbow running around the foot. As the child turns the foot-dial towards the different colors, the colors change. Depending on how fast the child turns the foot-dial, the color will change at a fast or slow speed accordingly. To program the speaker, the child would press the second button to record the sound and then press it again to end the recording. To program the servo, the child would turn the foot-dial at the speed and direction (clockwise or counterclockwise) he wishes the servo to move.
World: exploring motion, mass, and momentum through play
Newton's world was a project inspired by:
Newton's World was a mockup of a sense-table application for kids aged 6-18. The idea was that kids could interact with physical shapes on the table and watch digital clones move through the simulation world. A variety of activities could be formed such as modelling constellations, trying to make arrows hit targets, trying to make cars avoid hitting, and create pleasing patterns through repetitive forms and through exploration, deepen understanding of Newton's laws of motion, mass, momentum, gravitational forces and inter-dependencies and how patterns are formed from shapes.
14 January, 2003