Using Experience-Centred Design and Tangible Interactions to Enhance Maternal-Child Interactions

I am going to use participatory design methods in my PhD research in order to understand parents and young children’s age 0 to 24 months specific design requirements through qualitative feedback in the workshops and modifications on the presented prototype. So what was more interesting in HCI course module for is to learn more about experience-centered design and tangible interactions that might be effective supporting parents and children in this age.

Understanding Experience

Jodi Forlizzi and Katja Battarbee describe experience and its role in multidisciplinary research and practice is their paper entitled ” Understanding Experience in Interactive Systems” which I found it related to my research covering HCI and young children mental health development. According to the paper, authors include contributions from different perspectives, and group models and theoretical approaches as product-centered, user-centered, and interaction-centered. Product-centered models provide straightforward applications for design practice, and these kind of experiences usually have a criteria or checklist to assess the quality. User-centered models help designers and developers to understand the people who will use their products, and experience is understood from peoples interacting with the product. Interaction-centered models explore the role that products serve in bridging the gap between designer and user, and experience is totality engaging self in relationship with object in a situation.

Moreover the paper presents an interactive-centered framework of experience where it focuses on interactions between individuals and products and experiences the results, as well as stressing the importance of these experiences in context of social interaction. In accordance to the framework, there are three ways to describe user-product interactions: Fluent that focuses on the automatic and skilled interactions with products, Cognitive interactions that focuses on the product hand, and can result in knowledge or confusion and error, Expressive interactions that help user from a relationship to the product.

Furthermore, the framework characterises three type of experience. The first, experience is the constant steam of self-talk that happens while interacting with the products, second, an experience refers to something that could be articulated or named, and has a beginning and often inspires emotional and behavioural change in the experiencer, and third, Co-experience talks about user experience in social contexts, and takes place as experiences are created together or shared with others through use of products.

Besides, the paper notes that emotions is at the heart of any human experience and an essential component of user-product interactions and user experience, because of three basic functions that are to shape our plans and interactions, to organise the plan procedures, and to evaluate the outcomes. In addition, the paper points at scalability of experience as the infinite amount of smaller user-product interactions and emotional responses that builds up larger experiences over time. As the conclusion, the framework could be useful for multidisciplinary design teams to understand and generate kinds of interactions and experiences that new product and systems might offer. Therefore, this paper helped in understanding some general terms in my research.


Design Workbooks

Another interesting paper that I read was entitled “Making Spaces: How Design Workbooks Works”, that I found it close to my research interest, and thought it will guide me in my future research in designing a tangible interactive toolkit to enhance parent child interactions, and child mental development. This paper discusses design workbooks that present a collection of design proposals covering both method and design methodology during the early stages of the project. Workbooks are defined as collections of design proposals and other material drawn together during projects to investigate design options. By giving the examples of the objective view proposal (from the first in house Alternatives workbook), and the detail of the placeholder proposal (form the second Alternative workbook), Gaver proves that workbooks can play important role, both functionally and experientially, in early stage of the design process.


According to the paper, one of the most valuable roles of design workbooks is as a fulcrum in the transition from initial background research to generation of designs to be developed. Another role is to understand the nature of problems and possibilities to be addressed in a given domain, and a mechanism to compel safe creative activity. The power of design workbooks is in creating a much larger landscape for exploring such concerns by exploiting the combinatorial explosion of similarities and differences among many such proposals. After presenting four workbooks, the author shares the methods that had been effective as a way of articulating the implicit intentions behind expressing ideas in particular ways, and concludes that design workbooks though time-consuming, are very useful in preparing initial design explorations.

Tangible Interactions

Participating in HCI classes also encouraged me to think about incorporating tangibles to support young children mental health development by designing an interactive toolkit that includes activities, videos and songs for the mother and young children to ensure their babies mental health, let them enjoy and spend more time with each other. For this purpose, I had a short literature review on the tangible interfaces and read some relevant papers.

Reference to what I read, tangible interaction includes a variety of perspectives but specifically it refers to the person interactions with digital information through the physical environments. Applications of tangible user interfaces have been developed in a large variety of domains and took many different forms, from simple tokens to task-specific objects. According to Dourish, two fundamental and unifying principles of HCI are tangible computing and social computing. Explorations in tangible computing have attempted to capitalise on a new range of skills, the tactile and physical skills that we employ in dealing with the world around us. Research into tangible computing has taken a step back and realised that, while we currently interact with computers through physical objects, we can better exploit our natural skills.

Literature Review

I have also started a literature review on the existing applications supporting child development. Baby Steps presents design and development of a novel system for using Twitter to track development progress in young children and understanding how such systems are accepted. Estrellita is a mobile capture and access tool to support parents of preterm infants to track the babies health data using interactive cooperative design method with the caregivers. Child Development, 0-6 years is another mobile application that is designed to ensure that social workers, those who work in early years and other professionals in childcare have instant access to high quality information on child developmental norms relevant to the 0-6 year’s age group. So, this application offers the required information and website for parents to track their child development.

I have also done a review work on using tangibles to improve parent child interactions for different purposes, and found out that there is a great potential in using toolkits to support young children in communications and play, motor skills, and literacy developments. Family Story Play is a tangible system that aims to converge entertainment, education, and communication among young children to play, learn, and connect with their parents and grandparents by offering a rich long distance book reading environment. KidCam is a prototype rich media capture device for generating sentimental keepsakes and monitoring activities that could keep records of the young children life events by recording video and audio, and taking photographs. Pokaboo was successful to engage children in distance physical play by combining networked physical toys with networked photo sharing or mobile video chat.

Moreover, Video Play is a tangible book reading interface using RFID technology that aimed to create a sense of togetherness between long distance family communications. Video Playdate facilitated video-mediated free play in four conditions of Vanilla, Pan-zoom-tilt, Mobile, and Projector rug to understand how different affordances to controlling view may influence free play. Furthermore, ShareTable System is a system that facilitated interaction opportunities for divorced parents and their children via videochat and a shared tabletop task space for sharing physical objects while chatting with each other. Virtual Box was designed to support mediated family intimacy via virtual and physical play using Bluetooth triangulation.

Though previous research review demonstrates that there is great interest, and success in supporting tangibles among parents and young children, the main contribution of my research is design and evaluation of a tangible interface to affect mother child rearing behaviors, improve parent-child interaction and optimize the physical and emotional environment for the mother and their young children. The presented toolkit aims to encourage early parents to spend more time in playing with their children, as well as tracking their child mental development through a shared media.


Empathy, Participatory Design and People with Dementia

In addition to reviewing some of the existing applications and toolkits supporting parent child interactions, I also reviewed an interesting paper entitled “Empathy, Participatory Design and People with Dementia” as John recommended to me. This paper describes the development, application and evaluation of a design method tailored for working with people with mild to moderate dementia. The main focus of the paper is to overcome the different views of designers and participants held during participatory design, and authors point that they decided to create empathic relationship between participants and designers by modifying participatory design techniques to foster respectful engagement with participants in the development of a digital aid to facilitate “safe walking” which begins the process with broad qualitative scoping and design work, and move further to develop personally tailored, individual designs, and experiential elements of the domain.



Another useful article that John recommended me to read was about affecting people involved in designing for them entitled “How was it for you? Experiences of participatory design in the UK health service ”. The main contribution of this paper is to understand and develop participatory methods for health service design, and prove that effective design of healthcare services depends on collaborations among designers, managers, decision makers, service users, and front line staff. The paper’s evaluation approach is based on participants’ interviews, thematic analysis, and presenting resultant themes.

According to the paper, Experience Based Design (EBD) is structured in four phases process of patients, caregivers and healthcare staff capturing and understanding their lived experiences of healthcare services, working together to improve the service based on the understanding, and measuring the effects of changes. First, in the Capture Phase, staff and patients are encouraged to record their personal stories, and participate in separate story-sharing events. Second, in the Understand Phase, participants analyse their experiences by plotting elements of their stories on emotional maps, and also explore feelings and emotions (positive emotions appear higher, and negative emotions lower) associated with their encounters. Third, for the Improve Phase, EBD establishes a set of co-design teams each involving both staff and patients to explore and implement service improvements in different areas. Finally, in the Measure Phase, in addition to proposing a shared evaluation between the participants, EBD resources also provide limited specific guidance regarding this phase.

Furthermore, the paper gives an example for the EBD of a project supporting older peoples’ medical outpatient service. The project participants were 21 patients, 8 staff including 2 nurses, a ward sister, a health support worker, a clerical worker, a receptionist, an ambulance dispatcher and a hospital volunteers’ coordinator, and they did the first three phase of the project in 12 months, and the measure phase later on.


Some References

Raffle, H., et al. Family story play: reading with young children (and elmo) over a distance. in Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. 2010. ACM.

Kientz, J.A. and G.D. Abowd, KidCam: toward an effective technology for the capture of children’s moments of interest, in Pervasive Computing. 2009, Springer. p. 115-132.

Raffle, H., et al. Pokaboo: a networked toy for distance communication and play. in Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Interaction Design and Children. 2011. ACM.

Follmer, S., et al. Video play: playful interactions in video conferencing for long-distance families with young children. in Proceedings of the 9th International Conference on Interaction Design and Children. 2010. ACM.

Yarosh, S., K.M. Inkpen, and A. Brush. Video playdate: toward free play across distance. in Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. 2010. ACM.

Yarosh, S., et al. Almost Touching: Parent-child remote communication using the sharetable system. in Proceedings of the 2013 conference on Computer supported cooperative work. 2013. ACM.

Davis, H., et al. Virtual box: supporting mediated family intimacy through virtual and physical play. in Proceedings of the 19th Australasian conference on Computer-Human Interaction: Entertaining User Interfaces. 2007. ACM.

Jensen, C.N., W. Burleson, and J. Sadauskas. Fostering early literacy skills in children’s libraries: opportunities for embodied cognition and tangible technologies. in Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Interaction Design and Children. 2012. ACM.

Kientz, J.A., R.I. Arriaga, and G.D. Abowd. Baby steps: evaluation of a system to support record-keeping for parents of young children. in Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. 2009. ACM.

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