PIRAMAZE is a maze building & solving toy that helps children develop physical perception, logical thinking, and cooperative skills.

Context

SK Creative Challenge 2016 (Integrated Creative Design Project), 15 weeks

Team

Alena Kazakova (CS), Stefan Erich Boschenriedter (CS), Sohee Sim (ME), Hankyul Song (ME)

Computer Science - Alena Kazakova, Stefan Erich Boschenriedter

Role

Team leader, UX Design, Industrial Design, Paper Main Author

team leader, research, ideation, design, video, paper

Tool

Rhino 3D, Keyshot, Adobe Illustrator, AfterEffects

Awarded in SK Creative Challenge 2016 (Best of Good Solution Award)

Published in HCI Korea Conference 2017

Published in Korean Society of Design Science Conference(KSDC) 2017

Awarded in Undergraduate Conference Contest of KSDC 2017 (Participation Award)

Brief

Interactive Toy & Happy Life

Design an interactive toy or robot using technology that could bring values in our daily lives.

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Our Solution

The Integration of Digital and Analog Toy Features

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PIRAMAZE is an interactive robot moving in the modularized maze, designed for children who are losing physical experience which is crucial for developing cognitive abilities and acquiring relevant knowledge, because of frequent exposure to digital games. PIRAMZE is equipped with both digital and analog toy features, in order to fulfill physical experience as well as keep attracting children's attention and curiosity.

A new interactive tangible toy for children who are losing physical experience which is crutial for developing cognitive abilities and acquiring relevant knowledge, because of frequent exposure to digital games. PIRAMZE is equipped with both digital and analog toy features, in order to fulfill physical experience as well as keep attracting children's attention and curiosity.

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Design Process

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Research and Problem Framing

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Children need a new toy that can fulfill the physical experience that they are missing.

Children are moving away from the important physical experiences that can be obtained from tangible toys. The development of technology and communication has brought many changes to the culture of children's play. These days, most of the children primarily enjoy digital games through smartphones or computers instead of tangible toys of various shapes and materials. However, tangible toys are much more intuitive and therefore educationally important in that they help children quickly acquire knowledge of relevant experiences and develop cognitive abilities.

This project began with the awareness that children are moving away from the important physical experiences that can be obtained from tangible toys. The development of technology and communication has brought many changes to the culture of children' s play. These days, most of children primarily enjoy digital games through smart phones or computers instead of tangible toys of various shapes and materials. However, tangible toys are much more intuitive and therefore educationally important in that they help children quickly acquire knowledge of relevant experiences and develop cognitive abilities.

History of Toy/Robot

We scoped down our target user to 8~12 years old boys, since they are more inclined to immerse in digital toys compared to girls according to research. This age is also the most receptive period for the development of basic skills, such as physical perception and logical thinking. We believed that the inclusion of physical features could potentially provide educational benefits.

Firstly, we needed to understand the history and trends of toys and robots. Each team retrieved information from books and the internet.  After that, seven other design students and I visualized a trend map.

We scoped down our target user to 8~12 years old boys, since they are more inclined to immerse in digital toys compared to girls according to a research. This age is also the most receptive period for the development of basic skills, such as physical perception and logical thinking. We believed that the inclusion of physical features could potentially provide educational benefits.

Firstly, we needed to understand the history and trends of toys and robots. Each team retrieved information from books and the internet.  After that, seven other design students and I visualized a trend map.

We scoped down our target user to 8~12 year-old boys, since they are more inclined to immerse in digital toys compared to girls according to a research. This age is also the most receptive period for the development of basic skills, such as physical perception and logical thinking. We believed that the inclusion of physical features could potentially provide educational benefits.

Firstly, we needed to understand the history and trends of toys and robots. Each team retrieved information from books and the internet. After that, seven other design students and I visualized a trend map.

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Online Survey and Interview

Then, we conducted an online survey in both Korean and English to understand what kinds of toys boys prefer, what boys and parents think about existing toys, and what they expect from a new toy. 110 anonymous children and parents replied. The results gave us some abstract guidelines for designing new interactive educational toys. We also found in-depth information through individual interviews.

Then, we conducted an online survey in both Korean and English to understand what kinds of toys boys prefer, what boys and parents think about existing toys, and what they expect from a new toy. 110 anonymous children and parents replied. The results gave us some abstract guidelines for designing new interactive educational toys. We also found in-depth information through individual interviews.

Then, we conducted an online survey in both Korean and English to understand what kinds of toys boys prefer, what boys and parents think about existing toys, and what they expect from a new toy. 110 anonymous children and parents replied. The results gave us some abstract guidelines for designing new interactive educational toys. We also found in-depth information through individual interviews.

Insights

01.

Continuous newness and audiovisual response are the main attractions that make children feel enjoyable in digital gaming.

INSIGHT 01

Continuous newness and audiovisual response are the main attractions that make children feel enjoyable in digital gaming.

Digital games, unlike tangible toys, can be regularly updated in terms of stories, characters, or items. These features prevent children from becoming accustomed to or bored with games. In addition, digital games react visually and acoustically to commands, which interests children.

INSIGHT 01

Continuous newness and audiovisual response are the main attractions that make children feel enjoyable in digital gaming.

Digital games, unlike tangible toys, can be regularly updated in terms of stories, characters, or items. These features prevent children from becoming accustomed to, or bored with, games. In addition, digital games react visually and acoustically to commands, which interests children.

Digital games, unlike tangible toys, can be regularly updated in terms of stories, characters, or items. These features prevent children from becoming accustomed to or bored with games. In addition, digital games react visually and acoustically to commands, which interest children.

INSIGHT 01

Continuous newness and audiovisual response are the main attractions that make children feel enjoyable in digital gaming.

Digital games, unlike tangible toys, can be regularly updated in terms of stories, characters, or items. These features prevent children from becoming accustomed to or bored with games. In addition, digital games react visually and acoustically to commands, which interests children.

INSIGHT 01

Continuous newness and audiovisual response are the main attractions that make children feel enjoyable in digital gaming.

Digital games, unlike tangible toys, can be regularly updated in terms of stories, characters, or items. These features prevent children from becoming accustomed to, or bored with, games. In addition, digital games react visually and acoustically to commands, which interests children.

02.

The most important analog features in determining the popularity of toys are assembling, controlling, and story-telling.

INSIGHT 02

The most important analog features in determining the popularity of toys are assembling, controlling, and story-telling.

Although most children are spending more time with digital games, there are still several popular classic toys. Many respondents answered they like assembling and controlling things; LEGO and RC cars. Most of them also stated that they like to collect toy animation characters such as Power Rangers, Turning Mecard, Pororo, Carbot, or Gundam.

Although most children are spending more time with digital games, there are still several popular classic toys. Many respondents answered they like assembling and controlling things; LEGO and RC cars. Most of them also stated that they like to collect toy animation characters such as Power Rangers, Turning Mecard, Pororo, Carbot, or Gundam.

INSIGHT 02

The most important analog features in determining the popularity of toys are assembling, controlling, and story-telling.

Although most children are spending more time with digital games, there are still several popular classic toys. Many respondents answered they like assembling and controlling things; LEGO and RC cars. Most of them also stated that they like to collect toy animation characters such as Power Rangers, Turning Mecard, Pororo, Carbot, or Gundam.

03.

Parents also suggested that it would be much better if children could adjust the difficulty levels as they want.

INSIGHT 03

Parents also suggested that it would be much better if children could adjust the difficulty levels as they want.

This is because, as children grow, they tend to get bored with tangible toys quickly. We realized that developing the challenge and adjusting difficulty levels would allow children to enjoy their toys for a much longer period.

This is because, as children grow, they tend to get bored with tangible toys quickly. We realized that developing the challenge and adjusting difficulty levels would allow children to enjoy their toys for a much longer period.

INSIGHT 03

Parents also suggested that it would be much better if children could adjust the difficulty levels as they want.

This is because, as children grow, they tend to get bored with tangible toys quickly. We realized that developing the challenge and adjusting difficulty levels would allow children to enjoy their toys for a much longer period.

Ideation & Concept Development

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We came up with a universal metaphor, to begin with: a pirate searching for a treasure in the sea. We imagined an interactive pirate ship wandering in the maze looking for treasure. During the journey, there would be challenges, such as obstacles or monsters, for the ship to avoid. Children could control and guide the ship to the treasure. We thought a popular story would attract children easily.

We came up with a universal metaphor to begin with: a pirate searching for a treasure in the sea. We imagined an interactive pirate ship wandering in the maze looking for treasure. During the journey, there would be challenges, such as obstacles or monsters, for the ship to avoid. Children could control and guide the ship to the treasure. We thought popular story would attract children easily.

We came up with a universal metaphor to begin with: a pirate searching for a treasure in the sea. We imagined an interactive pirate ship wandering in the maze looking for treasure. During the journey, there would be challenges, such as obstacles or monsters, for the ship to avoid. Children could control and guide the ship to the treasure. We thought popular story would attract children easily.

Combining Digital and Analog Features

Combining DIGITAL and ANALOG features,

AN INTERACTIVE ROBOT MOVING IN THE MODULARIZED MAZE

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After several brainstorming sessions, we set a concrete concept. Based on the research, we extracted concept keywords 'MODULAR, EXTENDABLE, and INTERACTIVE' through combinations of the key elements of digital games and tangible toys. STORY-TELLING feature, a pirate ship looking for treasure in the maze, wasn't included but it worked as a theme continued across the entire design.

After several brainstorming sessions, we set a concrete concept. Based on the research, we extracted concept keywords 'MODULAR, EXTENDABLE, and INTERACTIVE' through combination of the key elements of digital games and tangible toys. STORY-TELLING feature, a pirate ship looking for treasure in the maze, wasn't included but it worked as a theme continued across the entire design.

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Final Design

Logo

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PIRAMZE = PIRATE + MAZE
To symbolize them, I designed a logo with a ship located on a simplified maze.

PIRAMZE = PIRATE + MAZE
To symbolize them, I designed a logo with a ship located on a simplified maze.

Composition

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Game Rules

Rule 1) Challenge Mode

There are various levels of MISSION CARDS. Children can clear missions step-by-step. A child can play alone in this mode or they can play together with their friends or parents.

1) Challenge Mode

There are various levels of MISSION CARDS. Children can clear missions step-by-step. A child can play alone in this mode or they can play together with their friends or parents.

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Rule 2) Competition Mode

Children can design their own mazes. The challenge is to solve each other's mazes quickly. The one who solves the maze the quickest is the winner. This mode is for two or more people.

2) Competition Mode

Children can design their own mazes. The challenge is to solve each other's mazes quickly. The one who solves the maze the quickest is the winner. This mode is for two or more people.

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Rule 3) Battle Mode

SHIP can be connected to a smartphone app for manipulation. Children can control it like RC Cars. The one who hits the side of another ship wins the game. This mode can be played with two or more people.

3) Battle Mode

PIRATE SHIP can be connected to a smartphone app for manipulation. Children can control it like RC Cars. The one who hits the side of another ship wins the game. This mode can be played with two or more people.

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User Scenario

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Prototyping

Pirate Ship

01 PIRATE SHIP

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RASPBERRY PI: WALL FOLLOWING CODES

The PIRATE SHIP is coded to move along the barrier on the left, but this alone will not solve the maze. The children will be the ones who solve the maze. They will choose DIRECTION SIGNS so that the SHIP can take the shortest route. If children do not give the correct directions, the PIRATE SHIP will continue to wander in the maze. 

RASPBERRY PI: WALL FOLLOWING CODES

The PIRATE SHIP is coded to move along the barrier on the left, but this alone will not solve the maze. The children will be the ones who solve the maze. They will choose DIRECTION SIGNS so that the SHIP can take  the shortest route. If children do not give the correct directions, the PIRATE SHIP will continue to wander in the maze. 

ULTRASONIC SENSORS: OBSTACLE AVOIDANCE

Three ultrasonic sensors will measure the distance from the PIRATE SHIP to obstacles to the front and sides. The location information helps the PIRATE SHIP move without colliding with the walls.

ULTRASONIC SENSORS: OBSTACLE AVOIDANCE

Three ultrasonic sensors will measure the distance from the PIRATE SHIP to obstacles to the front and sides. The location information helps the PIRATE SHIP move without colliding with the walls.

CAMERA: OBJECT DETECTION

The PIRATE SHIP's camera is used to detect DIRECTION SIGNS and destination. Real-time computer vision processing is utilized to read where the DIRECTION SIGN is indicating. 

CAMERA: OBJECT DETECTION

The PIRATE SHIP's camera is used to detect DIRECTION SIGNS and destination. Real-time computer vision processing is utilized to read where the DIRECTION SIGN is indicating. 

Base Boards

01 PIRATE SHIP

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MAZE WALL MODULES are designed to light up regardless of the assembling direction. For this, each MAZE WALL MODULE has two LEDs inside. So, it has two (-) electric connections with one (+) electric connection in the middle. For this reason, the wiring of the prototype of BASEBOARDS has double (-) electric wires inside.

MAZE WALL MODULES are designed to light up regardless of the assembling direction. For this, each MAZE WALL MODULE has two LEDs inside. So, it has two (-) electric connections with one (+) electric connection in the middle. For this reason, the wiring of the prototype of BASE BOARDS has double (-) electric wires inside.

User Test

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We conducted a user test with a 9-year-old boy. Since we could not implement all parts of PIRAMAZE, we could only observe a limited reaction. However, we could explore important implications for the keywords used in PIRAMAZE.

We conducted a user test with a 9-year-old boy. Since we could not implement all parts of PIRAMAZE, we could only observe a limited reaction. However, we could explore important implications for the keywords used in PIRAMAZE.

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Market Positioning

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Promotion Video

Proceeding Paper

I authored academic proceeding paper Modular & Interactive Tangible Toy for Children: PIRAMAZE as the main author. It was published in the 2017 Korean Society of Design Science Conference and awarded.

Copyright 2019 Jaeyeon Huh. All rights reserved. 

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