UX design and visual concept
Children between 7 and 14 years old, parents, teachers and authorities such as police
UX designer and visual designer to develop the concept for Emotion Explorers, finalist for the IDC 2023 Congress in Chicago
Illustrator, Figma, Canva, Miro
I created this project with Yuyu Liu and Ayşegül Erdemir to present to the ACM Interaction Design and Children (IDC) Conference, between June 19-23, 2023 at Northwestern University in Chicago.
We were assigned to see through children's ideas regarding technology, to "“rediscover childhood” after the pandemic as we (re)emerge, (re)engage, and (re)connect with one another." (ACM 2023). We then started brainstorming and mapping ideas, which allowed us to conceive Emotion Explorers, a system that motivates and monitors emotional maturity development.
We looked through children's ideas submitted to ACM for the Research & Design Challenge on "Building a more compassionate world". It was important that creative initiatives by professionals were inspired by fresh ideas from children around the world, that they aim to respond to a problem or need children were interested in tackling.
Interpretation and definition
Parting from this, we extracted the key concepts, tools, features and affordances, also identifying the range of age of the submitters. It was important to map all the information from all the submitters to understand the solution panorama they had created. Through this way, we could later focus on particular key concepts, tools, features and affordances. For this we made a mindmap to be able to define our solution that always went back to the mission of "building a more compassionate world".
For working on our definition based on our interpretation of the children's ideas, we used some exploration design thinking, impulsed by brainstorming sessions. Ayşegül, who comes from the Neuroscience field brought great theoretical insights on behaviour, Yuyu who is a UX researcher brought more ideas on processes and objectives related to testing, observation and evaluation, and I brought some ideas regarding content mapping, visual concepts and competitive analysis, as well as exploring the user journey for the children and how their pains, gains and needs were being addressed, through the features that we ideated for the system.
We also made a persona to reflect motivations, frustrations and habits of an example user, that helped us understand some of the potential choices and actions she might take when using the system.
Design thinking brainstorming and mapping in Miro
Design and prototype
Emotion Explorers is intended to be a system where emotional maturity is motivated so it grow and is also monitored, both for educational and safety reasons. The AI assistant Zen, talks with children through a tablet and/or a smart bracelet and also sends some visual cues related to the emotion it senses from the conversation. Zen will have several conversation flows that it will adapt according to what the child user is feeling at the moment. Zen acts as an emotional maturity coach that guides child users in building awareness on their emotions, identifying what they are feeling and why and help them to grow emotionally by being a friend who listens to them, answers them and offers users a hand or a shoulder to cry on when they feel they cannot communicate with other kids or adults.
Child users can talk with Zen through their smart bracelet and/or interact with Zen through a tablet at home or in their classroom. The idea is to have a dedicated tablet, that is attached to a kid-friendly plushie, so children can sit down and talk with Zen during a particular period of the day. The smart bracelet allows them to talk with Zen whenever they like and wherever they are.
Emotion Explorers has a mobile app for teacher and parent users, who can monitor how the children users they have under their care are advancing in their emotional goals. Apart from data related to emotional growth, it also gives insight on emotional danger the child users might encounter, for instance bullying and abuse. If the child user feels bullied or in conflict when using the smart bracelet, Zen will detect this and send an alert to the app for teachers, parents and/or authorities to tell that the child is in danger, as well as their location.
Audio communication via smart bracelet
Emotion Explorer devices
Use cases examples
Constraints and limitations of the project
We focused our research and design of Emotion Explorers for a published article, so we had some time constraints for its development. We were not able to develop the AI itself and do not have yet an AI specialist in our core team, so we have not come across the particular challenges the concept can bring when being developed. We planned for testing and evaluation in controlled environments where children can try the system out, however this was to be done at a later stage.
Our main objective was to conceive the idea, get a framework in place for its exploration and then share it through a presentation in the conference, as well as through a teaser video that can be accessible by adults and children.
What did I learn
I have learned to be able to design a concept with a more theoretical approach from cognitive sciences and be able to balance practice and academia better. It is an interesting dynamic on using academic research to move design ideas and give them more direction.
Also, being directed by children's ideas to make a design concept for children is truly amazing. Having users themselves suggest possible solutions to their problems and situations from everyday life is greatly refreshing and motivating, as their creativity knows no limits and really inspires us to keep on creating and perfecting our craft. I really look forward to keep on doing more projects with this approach and exploring different ways to design them.