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MUISTOPALLO


Simon Pertschy - Helsinki -
autumn 1998, spring 1999
- Design Fiction









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A play concept designed for children from 4 to 8. Its aim is to create an opportunity for children with different skills and abilities to enjoy play and to share experiences. The game is based on a tangible interface that encourages both disabled and non-disabled children in integrated kindergartens to play in a collaborative way.

The tools of Muistopallo - a multiuser table and soft balls - provide children with intuitive ways to communicate by playing with colours, images and sounds. Children create their own play environment by defining the properties of the balls and the table in an intuitive and playful way: music, painting, storytelling. Imbedded in the the educational schedule

Muistopallo can be used as a tool for learning the basic communication skills.


Design for all

For many children social interaction and communication with their peers is restricted due to certain impairments. The design of Mistopallo is based on the idea that play objects and environments should be attractive to all children and that play is an important activity for learning and development of every child - no matter what kind of abilities or disabilities a child has. The idea of using technology is to "close the gap" between children who have problems in exchanging ideas and expressing themselves. Environmens and devices should be designed in such a way that children easily adjust them to their actual needs and abilities. The application of new media could provide them with interesting tools for playful interaction.


Equipment

The game equipment of Muistopallo consists of a round table with a multi-user touch screen and soft handheld balls that can be placed on the table.

Soft balls that change their properties when coming close to each other.
The balls of Muistopallo are able to store and exchange information about pictures, sounds and colors. The balls also create sound, display color and change their properties when coming close to each other. The pictures that are stored in the ball stay invisible until the ball is moved on top of the screen.

The round table with a multi-user touch screen functions as as a central furniture in the kindergarten. Combined with the balls it has different features: learning about time, gathering and getting information (digital portfolio), platform for games.


Sensors as a spatial instrument. Children create their own instruments by defining the properties of sensors in an intuitive and playful way. The ultrasound sensors trigger the body movementsof the children (even smallest movements according to physically disabled children) and transfer them into visual or audio signals.


Games

The concept of Muistopallo is flexible for different kind of games. One of the games I developed further is "Winter", based on the children's book "Frederick". This game consists of two different parts. The challenge in the first part is to collect with the balls memories that are representing the summer: combinations of picture, sound and colour. The memories of the balls are changed by coming close to each other and touching another ball. In the second part of "Winter" the children gather around the table and try to win against winter by revealing their memories before winter has come.

abc nov /2000