NOW Design Spotlight

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Spot [DRAFT]

Image Credit : NewDealDesign



Project Overview

Spot is a tool for children’s discovery, a concept project combining digital technology and educational tools.



Project Context

In a world overloaded with screens and non-participatory experiences, designing meaningful resources that nurture children’s abilities to engage with their natural surroundings is crucial. Much of the technology created for children is at odds with their developmental needs.

Studies show that children are suffering from lower attention spans. Spot battles the over-saturated screen-life by using technology to slow down the pace. Digitally native kids are nurtured to get active and off screens through adventures with their AI companion.

By encouraging focus skills, Spot battles the ‘Distraction Economy’ at a crucial stage of development. Being ‘present’ and ‘in-the-moment’ is a skill that can be taught, and studies find that it nurtures a sense of ‘mindfulness’ inciting self-confidence and self-awareness.

Project Innovation

Designed to integrate optics, object recognition and machine learning, Spot is a camera and pico projector with a platform to create personal stories from children’s explorations. Intended for children ages 5-9, Spot is a companion AI to assist ‘learning-by-doing’.

Spot places gesture recognition, LEDs, and haptics in the hand to accompany the child’s experience. When pointing at an object, Spot will blink and vibrate to indicate it has locked on. After identifying the object, Spot's voice weaves a personal response from it.

Later, Spot transforms the collection of objects into a personalized narrative supported by the built-in projector. The complexity of the stories will grow and change as the child progresses through childhood.

Design Challenge

Spot's physical form — friendly, robust, and durable — sits comfortably in hand and holds up to bumps and bruises. Housed in the head are the camera and pico projector. Integrated into the top of the handle are small perforations for the microphone and speaker. The recessed face sits behind hardened, scratch resistant glass within the head.

User Experience

With continued use, Spot's system learns about the child's interests and pace. Categories of interest will emerge, educating the system to encourage new paths, generate new age-appropriate story archetypes, and treasure hunts that can be done with other family members.

Treasure hunts encourage collaboration and enrich crucial problem-solving skills. In addition to ‘following the child's’ gaze’ Spot can also pay attention to other developmental cues like balance, skipping or jumping, all educating the system to build more meaningful stories.

As the child explores, they can point the camera at objects to ‘ask’ what the object knows. By creating an overlay of dialog the child can ‘learn from the horse's mouth', so to speak, while Machine Learning Assisted object detection responds with useful and (to the child) interesting bits of information.

Conceptual Design celebrates the projects that are yet to be realised. They are may be creative ideas, imagined future states or thought pieces intended to start a conversation. This category rewards the blue sky thinking that is needed to drive design forward.

The digital category celebrates design outcomes across digital platforms and includes motion design, front end and interaction design, user experience design and digital product design.

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