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Interactive Music Puzzle

2013-14 Master's dissertation by Marieke Van Camp
supervisor: Margot Vanderlick - Lilliputiens Innovation Manager 

Selected for Best of PO! 2014

Children aged between 4 and 6 can use the Interactive Music Puzzle to learn about music in a more intuitive, playful and direct way by manipulating the puzzle’s physical elements.

Rich interaction
Children are playing with digital toys from an increasingly young age. But interaction with these toys is totally different from normal play interaction. Children have to push buttons and touch screens during games and no physical play is involved whatsoever. With the Music Puzzle, we tried to integrate the digital world in the physical environment in order to enrich interaction. The aim is to stimulate children even more and enrich their game experiences.

In the design, musical parameters are represented by physical elements. A physical object that corresponds to a certain type of digital information (shown by its shape, colour, material, etc.) is called a token. For example, the white discs behave like half notes while the black discs behave like whole notes. Sounds are represented by rings, which can be placed in the section above the turntable. The tempo is directly related to the turntable's movement: it can be changed by turning the handle on the side of the puzzle. The tempo of the song will change if the user turns the handle faster or slower.

Free play
There are no right or wrong answers in this game. We want to stimulate children's creativity, not by keeping score but by creating a fully autonomous context in which children are free to play. We have tried to achieve this by offering an endless number of options. The child can choose sounds from numerous possible sound sets as well as choosing where to place the discs on the turntable. The game has endless variations.

The turntable is divided into 16 ‘counts’ in order to provide guidance during the game. These counts are indicated by grooves in the turntable and allow children to position the notes more easily in relation to other notes. The product can also be supplemented with pattern cards. These cards contain visual representations of existing melodies, which children can try to recreate. The patterns have a purely supportive function: the product's emphasis is still on free play. The patterns may also help children to develop their own melodies.