I aim to shape products, interfaces and services that mediate meaningful dialogues between people, systems and their environments within everyday life.

Posts tagged ‘toys’


Toy Street

In search of marbles I had to forage the streets of Hong Kong. Mainstream toy stores nowadays like Toys ‘R Us only stock the new, high-tech, “in” toys, but when I ask if they have simple marbles their automatic answer is “no.” I eventually found out

about Tai Yuen Street, aka Toy Street, in Wan Chai that brings me into a bustling world of local street markets filled with the sounds of everyone trying to sell their wares. Lined along the sidewalk behind the street stalls are the toy stores stocked with old-style and simple toys like Play-Doh, wind-up robots and… marbles! The marble designs were quite homogeneous and plain, as opposed to all the wide varieties available to me as a kid (I remember boulders, godfathers, and peawees!), but nonetheless they were marbles I could use in my prototyping.



Brainstorming: Play

The wonderful thing about the aging Baby Boomers I interviewed, as opposed to the current elderly population, is that they enjoy staying active through hobbies, sports and enjoyable activities. Another thing is their engagement in play to stimulate t

heir minds as well as maintain social connectedness. I researched existing tangible, playful forms, and brainstormed ideas for possible design opportunities.




Sociable Robot Toys

My Introduction to Sociable Robots course is taught by Cory Kidd, an energetic lecturer from MIT’s Media Lab.  It’s quite an enjoyable and interesting course so far, covering topics of psychology, sociology and HCI in the context of Human-Robot Interaction. During one class, we had fun watching a few videos of robot toys and discussed whether they were 1) sociable, 2) robots, and 3) fun. A quick survey from the class showed that everyone had different opinions about these factors, especially when evaluating the fun factor of the toy.

A sociable robot then is a robot that can communicate and engage with humans in a sociable way to fulfill a certain goal.

Although technology has come a long way to create impressive robots, some toys are too focused on technological features thus compromising the ease of interaction and play value.  One example is the FemiSapien, which has many features such as learning dance moves, striking fashion poses, and delivering business cards, but to memorize the gesture sequences to activate a function (hand swipe, tilt head up/down, multiple hand presses, etc.) is cumbersome and not intuitive. RobotPanda, on the other hand, is a playful and enjoyable companion that can engage kids over a long period: with different modes available, the panda’s body parts light up to the touch, laughs when it’s flying, and can become a storyteller. It is easy to interact with this toy because it talks you through what parts of the body to touch to perform the various functions and access different modes.

Eventually, we’ll be creating our own sociable robot for our final project focusing on the interaction that people can have with the robot. One important thing that I would like to keep in mind is how to sustain a meaningful long-term relationship with a user after the initial novelty wears off.