by Mo Akade
Interview/Observation and Insights
I designed a learning toy for Ben Loh, a rambunctious 3-year-old boy. I was concerned initially about the first interview because I didn’t think Ben would be able to verbalize what he likes. I had prepared some interview questions, but went into the interview knowing that I might not get much. I decided that my time would be better spent observing Ben and asking him to tell me what he was doing when I saw something interesting. During the observation, I realized that whatever I designed for Ben needed to take these things into account. My design challenge was to create a tool/toy that:
I decided to make a puzzle that Ben could use to help him learn his shapes. I wanted him to be able to play with this puzzle indoors and outdoors. I also designed an electronics prototype for indoor use. This was attached to a backpack prototype designed to hold the puzzle pieces. It would have embedded LEDs and light sensors; the light sensors would trigger the LEDs to turn on when all of the puzzle pieces are in the right place. During the user-testing with Ben, I realized that I had to change a few things. Ben loved the toy, but I needed to make the puzzle larger and redesign the puzzle pieces. I also needed to figure out a better design for switching out the indoor and outdoor versions of the puzzle.
The final design turned out great! It's a puzzle that Ben can play with inside the house and outside at the playground. The indoor puzzle is hooked up to a GoGo board. I wrote a program that turned an LED light on when all of the pieces in the same shape family were in the right place. I placed photoresistors on the puzzle board; when the photoresistors were covered by the shape, they triggered the LEDs. I also figured out a solution for swapping out the bases. I embedded magnets in the puzzle and bases, so they could snap together easily. The bases are now interchangeable, depending on where Ben wants to play with his puzzle. The learning toy has an appropriate level of challenge for Ben. It leaves him free to explore the space on his own, or enlist the help of others to match the shapes. Finally, Ben's Toy incorporates his favorite characters, which I'm sure he'll love!
Check out my video on youtube! http://youtu.be/60U7xKsKiow
Enjoy the toy, Ben!