Research paper

For research assignment, I picked a paper from Proceedings of ACM IDC11 Interaction Design and Children called Evaluating technology that makes physical games for children more engaging. The paper is somewhat relevant to the project Winnie and I are building.

The authors wish to explore one of the two learning objective in kinesthetic literacy, learning to move. They found out that interactive technologies incorporated in a physical sport helps get players more engaged. And people that played it well will most likely pick up the sport in real life. Few pre-existing successful materials that embrace these ideas are Splashball, Remote Impact, and PingPongPlus.

The game proposed was for user to throw toys toward a display screen. An image shows up when the toy hits the screen and eventually create a digital collage of all the toys in the end.

Some findings through play-test:
1. Children throw differently with a physical object in hand rather than a virtual one
2. Using alternative soft toys instead of hard bouncing balls help eliminate risk of injury and distraction from their end goal
3. Adding element to create personal connections with the children motivate them more
4. Keeping the interaction simple so players of all physical abilities can play.
5. Giving feedback on their hand position, throw velocity etc helps player reflect on their progress or skills

Lo-fidelity toy – refinement

After seeing our prototype, Alex told us about a UK-based company Novalia that specializes in producing conductive ink and boards. They did projects where people could touch a designated portion of event posters, and it outputs sound. Some of the similar products we found are Circuit ScribeBare conductive and 3M electrically conductive tape.

We decided to test the functionality of available materials at ITP before investing into these fancy products. We tried out 555 timer, conductive tape, and littleBits. 555 timer did not really work, but the other two works great, especially littleBits. It’s purely simple and effective.

We put up a visual target for the user to hit on using the slingshot, a buzzer would be triggered once they hit certain point. We plan to scale this up by incorporating copper tape or conductive ink for future version.

One of our user testing the stability of our slingshot.

For research assignment, I picked this paper from 2011 because it is relevant to the concept of my project.

Lo-fidelity toys

For this week, we were asked to make a lo-fidelity toys to be play-tested for our next class.

Some of the prompts given to us were:
– Target a persona, could be a child or adult
– Must be played within a specific environment
– Should be built under three materials (e.g batteries, electronics, wood…)

Winnie and I talked about how tech-heavy the toys nowadays are. Trying to bring technologies to kids as early as possible. Which is so different from what we used to have when we were young. We came across Pinaffo Pluvinage’s Papier Machine and love the aesthetic of their work. Why can’t classic and tech toys have a good match?

We list down some of the classic toys we know, and re-engineered it to add elements of tech to it.

iBall – so you can always be there

For this week, we were asked to critic on a topic related to technology. Pedro gave each group some extra constrains to work on. For us, it was:

    • Attribute: Playful
    • DeviceAbsurdity
    • Mood: Shame

Idit and I decided to make an object concerning mass surveillance. On our first meeting, she came up with the idea of using eyeball to watch back to those who surveil us. I think the idea was interesting, and it matches the constraint of being playful and absurd. But we also thought the form of an eyeball was too predictable.


We then saw these images, and use it as reference for the foundation to our project, (left) gumball machine and (right) eye-shaped candy. After setting with the theme, we did our research hunting for the components. Idit happened to have a gumball machine at home! How wonderful is that! Adafruit has some mini spy camera and TFT display which could be useful. We bought both the sensor but found out that the result was not that ideal nor impactful, plus it was not very stable. The mini spy camera can take photos, but it’s all stored on a microSD card. The TFT only displays a pair of goggly eyes.


We scheduled office hour with Pedro, and he told us about RC camera commonly used for drones. It gives live feed within a certain range and does not require any programming at all!

For some reasons, we were having a hard time matching the right channel for the camera and receiver. Each time we reconnect the power, we would have to search through the different channels . We then noticed that the frequency range would show up for a split seconds when the receiver is attached to my phone app FPViwer, top left of the screen. We try to tune it with the chart given in the instruction sheet and now it works like a charm.

Idit excels in fabrication. She created the eyeballs using paint and plastic spheres. The result was phenomenal.

Final Product:


Last Sunday, Arnab get all of us to go to the Toyfair NYC. Hundreds of exhibitors from all over the world came and covered up two full floors of Jacob Javits Convention Center. It took me approximately 3 or 4 hours to skim through them at the very least.

This year’s trend must have something to do with sensory objects. Multiple variations of putty toys were introduced, each showcasing different rigidity, materials, or elasticity.

I came across a booth with a product called SculptaPalooza, the Squishy, Squashy, Sculpting Party Game. It’s a package that comes with a Playfoam, some game cards, a dice and a timer. Unlike other putty toys that relies heavily on ones’ imagination, users will be given constraints! In a given time, the player will be given instructions on how and what they should sculpt. Then their team members have to guess it.

What the Creator Says:
Playfoam is carried by Educational Insights, a company that focused on preschool market. They sell individual foams as well as other kit combinations. While SculptaPalooza is their first game designed for older children, ages 10 and up; they did propose instructions on how to include younger players. It is made with safe and non-toxic material, but can still be dangerous for kids as it has the capability to choke them.

What Parent and Kid says
The product is listed as Amazon’s Choice and best seller in the toys & games and learning & education toys category. They got 4.7 out of 5 stars in customer reviews. They could see similarities with the game Pictionary or Charades. All three are fast-paced multiplayer games that stimulate players’ imagination and creativity, and they have to race with time. The fact that is built on top of a game everybody is familiar with, makes the instructions pretty simple to understand.

They loved how they took a seemingly solitary, kiddie toy and turned it into a party game where adults could enjoy. Some still wish it could be more accessible to the younger audience for more families to enjoy. As we can see, they did not include children across all their promotional materials.

Another common complain was with the use of materials. They think that the foam can not hold itself very well and would rather use Playdough as substitute to it. But others disagrees as they said it adds silliness and challenges to the game.

Video Playback System

We were asked to start building our own video playback. I played with the brcosa, plane, and random a lot.

Below are some of the playback attempts I made.

Some of the problems I encountered:
1. Confused on where to connect the nodes
2. Playback speed not in realtime due to CPU limitation
3. Outputing multiple effects into a window
4. Switching between different videos

Bias Resume Shredder

For disobedient electronics, we need to make an object that meets the tech and critic side of the triangle. I build a shredder that shreds resume of applicant who fails to meet the “hidden” criteria. The definition of a qualified candidate has been blurry in a job hunt, especially in Taiwan. Western people have a higher chance of getting an english teaching position in nursery schools, not because they are more skillful at the language but because they are Caucasian. A pregnant applicant gets rejected because she is expecting to miss a few weeks of work due to labor or maternity issue, which then will cause a great impact on the company’s profit. Furthermore, older people were perceive to be less productive, less creative, and have more health problems.

The shredder has three inputs – age, gender, race. It decides whether to trigger the shredder depending on your input combinations.

Arduino Source Code:


Moving Imagery

For first week’s assignment, we were asked to took some videos that has design context in it. It is quite hard to not capture people. I took some that are materials related and some that has a main focus or subject.