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FP5

SMART-ITS Résumé de rapport

Project ID: IST-2000-25428
Financé au titre de: FP5-IST
Pays: Sweden

ToyLabs ITR AB company spin-off from Smart-Its application and user experience development

ToyLabs ITR AB grew out of a project initially called ’SpyBalls’ (now developed as a product called ‘Spookies’) developed in a project course taught by the PLAY studio of the Interactive Institute in the HCI/Interaction Design course at the IT University of Goteborg in Sweden. Smart-Its research and technology were fundamental to the course, both as a conceptual and prototyping platform and were used to deeply develop principles and early prototypes for user testing of the SpyBalls application. The project was continued in 3 (1 is pending) master’s theses supervised by PLAY, in the filing of a Swedish patent (application number 0302073-2) in July 2003, and in the formation of the ToyLabs company start-up established in June 2003, who’s shareholders are: Tobias Rydenhag, Sara Backlund, Jesper Bernson, Lena Berlin, Anders Lidstrom, and Jonas Stromberg.

SPOOKIES:
Spookies are computational free-play plush toys with embedded electronics for use in active and creative play situations. Spookies come in seven different pairs (fourteen modules in total) that collectively make up a communication platform. Computational properties of various modules include: sound, image, and message transmission; motion, light, and distance detection; and a timer function. Pairs of modules can be used by children to, for instance, discover how far away a friend is, capture pictures, detect if someone is moving in the next room, or send a secret message. Configurations of multiple modules generate more advanced functions – for example, a light-sensitive module plus a melody player plus a timer module to trigger a song at sunrise.

Spookies' unique flexibility relies on a modular architecture uniting two distributed wireless networks. One is based on radio communication for information transmission up to a distance of 200 meters. The other is based on Infra-Red (IR) communication for information transmission when the modules are physically connected. The two networks enable parallel communication where computation is distributed over all nodes. From the perspective of user experience, this is essential for enabling the intelligence of the system through physical and tangible interaction. A child can easily change the logic and information flow of the system by assembling Spookies in different ways, providing simple, physical end-user programming to children. Iterative prototyping and user participation have been essential to the development process – prototypes throughout have been evaluated in participatory sessions, informing both the research and product development in the company.

SPIN-OFF:
ToyLabs ITR AB is a spin-off from the PLAY studio of the Interactive Institute in relation to PLAY’s operations within the educational field as well as a PLAY studio research collaborator, particularly in relation to the Smart-Its research project.

Reported by

The Interactive Institute II Aktiebolag
Karlavagen 108
10450 Stockholm
Sweden
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