Tangible and Embodied Interaction

Game design. User experience. User research. Tangible and embodied interaction.

Tools: Arduino & Laser Cutter
Role: Prototyper & User researcher.


In the course Tangible and Embodied Interaction, we used the methods of games and play as a learning method and how that could be implemented to educate children within the subject of geography. Since computer games and video games are one of the most engaging pastimes in history, we wanted to implement their notions into learning and make learning more fun.


The concept and iterations

The main goal of our concept is to make children more interested in the subject of geography and encourage exploration through the game. For the first iteration, our idea was that the children could take any physical object and scan it to the computer using the web camera. The next step would be to guess on a map on the screen where in the world the object relates to. For example, a piece of LEGO would relate to Denmark since that is where it was invented. The interface on the screen would indicate if the answered country is correct or not. If the users would have the wrong answer, clues and hints would be given until the correct country is chosen. Statistics would also be displayed regarding the performance throughout the game.

For our second iteration of our concept, we moved away from the screen to a physical, interactive map. We wanted to push further on the social and collaborative aspect of the game where children could collaborate and discuss with each other to find the solution. We wanted to make the game more embodied and interactive instead of just pressing on a map on a screen. In our second iteration, the game surrounds the physical map where the objects are placed on the map, and if it is placed correctly a green LED light will light up. The objects will be placed on the map to their relation to the countries, the same way as in the first iteration.

Prototype for our second iteration.

Prototype making

The aim of our prototype was to test the game-dynamics. We wanted to explore if the game encouraged learning and collaboration. We created a lo-fi prototype, trying to incorporate the different aspects of our game.

To be able to create a quick and easy prototype, we chose to use the technique of color tracking through a web camera where we instead of using actual objects used colored bricks with engraved symbols as a representation of different objects. A map was printed out and the web camera was mounted above the map. When we mount the web camera above the map, we can set and find pixels for each country and use that to trigger an LED lamp by using an Arduino. If they are placed on the right country, that is if the specific color is placed on the right specified pixel range, a green LED-light will be turned on to indicate that the object is correctly placed.


Reflection and learnings

What we can conclude through the project is that game-based learning is an interesting and seemingly efficient way for learning subjects. Our concept was successful to some extent in our user testing, especially when it comes to the game dynamics. We got appreciation and interesting highlights from the children testing the game where they got to discuss with each other and interact socially while also learning. It would be interesting to further explore the game dynamics of our concept and implement them in different contexts.

What I learnt in this project was especially how to do rapid but functional prototypes to be able to test the game dynamics. It is easy to end up with assumptions that might not be true if you don’t test them with actual users. I believe in the power of making many iterations through user testing, and therefore I think it is important to be able to make these kinds of rapid and lo-fi prototypes.