PEEK & BOOK — Transforming the outside into an imaginary playground

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Abstract

Today, urban kids are spending time indoors more than ever before. Parents and educators are concerned that young kids are not using their senses actively and don’t have enough possibilities for explorative, outdoor learning. Current play experiences are inviting kids to look at new, fictional worlds and prevent their wild imagination. Instead of providing new things for them to look at, what if we could equip the kids with new ways to see and explore the world with?

PEEK & BOOK is a set of play tools that transforms the outside into an imaginary playground to children. BOOK provides guided explorations where kids are invited to complete a story by capturing video or audio snippets from around them. With PEEK, kids can create their own stories by simply sequencing their captures as well.

Through tangible play, PEEK & BOOK aims to engage kids’ senses, stimulate their imaginations and allow them to create beautiful storytelling from natural elements.

Inspiration and Method

With the rise of urbanization, not having access to ideal natural areas is a big reality for many kids growing up today. Traditional activities like moving, discovering, exploring that children do in nature are not necessarily seen as possible to do in cities.

From the beginning of the project, I was curious to find out which play and learning experiences in nature are important to keep for children and as an interaction designer, what explorer tools I might design in order to sustain these experiences for today’s children.

I have investigated the extreme and mainstream sides of this topic by doing field research in two distinctly different locations: Umeå and Istanbul. Talking to natural scientists, outdoor educators and visiting a nature school provided me how kids should examine the outdoor, natural world. Doing home interviews and observing outdoor play in city context provided three opportunity areas. Through workshops, 62 concepts were created as explorer tools that invite kids to collect experiences from outdoors.

Watch my documentary-like research videos: https://vimeo.com/album/4607302

Result

PEEK & BOOK offers a new type of play experience, where the toy doesn’t take the role of teaching, but instead, facilitates learning.

PEEK acts as a digital collector to capture video or audio snippets with the push of a button. BOOK acts as a physical platform with guided explorations and it keeps the stories created by the child. They communicate with each other through the visual codes on the paper pages.

It can be played in two modes:
– Take part: Join an ongoing story by watching or hearing the scene, and complete the story by capturing your response with PEEK.
– Create: Step-by-step capture snippets with PEEK and transfer the sequence to BOOK.