2013-14 Master's dissertation by Thomas Michiels
supervisors: Margot Vanderlick - LILLIPUTIENS & Lukas Van Campenhout - UAntwerp
Selected for Best of PO! 2014
RAY is a modern magic lantern for children aged between 3 and 6 which sheds new light on their world. It is a game platform involving projection that allows them to explore fantasy worlds. They can use the camera to play with images and video communication. RAY transposes the possibilities of modern technology onto the children's own world.
Our society is being increasingly permeated with technology. Our laundry machines are connected to the Internet, our cars are mobile computers and our smartphones have changed our lives drastically in recent years. Oddly enough, we operate all this technology in almost the same way, by pressing buttons or swiping screens. All this technology has a major impact on our lives, but we operate it in an almost exclusively cognitive way. However, our bodies and senses can do so much more and, more often than not, our emotions influence our actions. Rich Interaction is a design approach that aims to take this into account. The technology fades into the background and the controls of the product are designed in the most intuitive way possible. Meaningful actions and gestures underpin this rich interaction.
Children born in this day and age grow up in a world full of technology. They come into contact with it during early childhood and will probably never know a world without technology. But the way in which they engage with it is not ideal. The smartphones, tablets and computers they play with were not designed with them in mind. Kindergarten age is a magical age: through creative play, children discover the world and explore what they can do with it. They are very active physically and can lose themselves completely in play. RAY was developed in close contact with its target audience to capture this sense of wonder and imagination and transpose it into form and functionality. Screens have been replaced by projection and users' physical movements serve as input. As a result, it has become a highly dynamic product. RFID technology allows seemingly ordinary toys or everyday objects to come to life in combination with RAY.
RAY is a portable console which fits snugly into a child's hand. It starts up when the eye at the front is opened, and if you insert a game or object into the back, it looks as though it has been pushed into the beam of light. The games can be developed very freely and creatively. The camera on a cable makes the product extra fun. It allows children to see what is going on behind them or around a corner. If the console is placed on the floor, it can be used to project dances or plays onto the wall for the entire family. The camera is activated when a mirror is positioned behind RAY. Coloured mirrors can be used to create projections with a colour filter. RAY also enables children to play with each other or their families remotely. A video link can be established between two players, and the games can begin.