Interaction13 | Student Design Challenge

PLAYFUL TECHNOLOGY
STUDENT DESIGN CHALLENGE

With every passing year, technology becomes further embedded into every aspect of our lives. With its increasing ubiquity, our traditional relationship, where technology is a tool for completing tasks and accomplishing goals, is receding. Now, people (especially young people) look at technology as a way to connect, and even interact with in a less-structured and playful manner.

DEVELOP A VISION OF “PLAYFUL TECHNOLOGY”

This year, Interaction and Experience Research (IXR) at Intel Labs and the IxDA challenge you to consider these paradigm shifts in what technology means and how we interact with it. Building on the work that Intel Labs has been doing around the changing relationships we have with technology, we want you to explore the experience implications of “playful technology.”

What we mean by “Playful Technology”

Frequently when we design products and services that utilize technology, we think in terms of satisfying a user need, or enabling the user to achieve a goal, complete a task, or solve a problem. What if we instead think about designing playful experiences for people, in which there is no end goal, people are encouraged to explore, be spontaneous, and creative? By allowing people to experiment, collaborate, create, and share, this goes well beyond gameplay. Look at children’s play for inspiration, where often the simplest raw materials lead to completely unexpected outcomes and hours of engagement.

Other themes you can explore

There are many directions to follow around the theme of Playful Technology, but some of the key areas that the Intel Labs team has surfaced through their research are:

Social Sense Making and Play

A key aspect of play is the social interaction we have with others, joining together to compete, create, and collaborate. In the physical world, our social interactions are rich and varied, and we early on develop the tools to work together and think through challenges, develop possibilities, and negotiate solutions. However, in the digital world, most social interactions are rudimentary, narrow, and limited. What new, richer experiences (beyond today’s baseline of chat, texting, photo sharing) can enable to people to play together in real-time, and make sense of the world together?

Playful Data

People are increasingly aware of the data they create, from data generated by sensors on smartphones and tablets, to data created by our posts and updates on social networking sites, to data arising from how much energy we use or where we go. What experiences can we create that allow people to “have fun” with their data? Can we create tools that allow people to explore and experiment with their data, and to use their data to understand themselves, their behavior, and their relationships to others in a playful manner?

Open Platforms for Playful Making

As technology becomes more ubiquitous, maybe we see it a little less as something precious. We may be more willing to hack our gaming console and turn it into a 3D camera or disassemble a brand new remote control car to make our own robot. If nothing else, we are more confident knowing that someone (probably online) can provide instructions. Lego Mindstorms, Arduino, and other prototyping platforms have made these previously mystifying technologies more approachable. What new open platforms might we design to unleash the creative energies of young makers on the material world? What happens when we think of technology as just another raw material, along with rocks and sticks, rubber bands and duct tape, construction paper and cardboard tubes?

JUDGES

Coming soon

KEEP IN TOUCH WITH THE CHALLENGE

CHALLENGE CO-CHAIRS

  • Steve Portigal, Principal, Portigal Consulting, @steveportigal
  • Jeremy Yuille, Program Director, Communication Design, RMIT University, @overlobe

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