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Layne commented on Who Wants to Dance?

Dear Laura,

I love your idea of celebrating the mundane moments of life—such as a daily walk! It reminds me of poet Mary Oliver's intense awareness on her forays into nature. This, it seems to me, is the basis of mindfulness: Are we aware of the richness that surrounds us? Do we relish in our daily opportunities to experience life? Do we share in these explorations together?

It's these indelible moments that, while not often recorded in words, are those most imprinted on our hearts. They inform the ways we interact with the world.

Best wishes!
Layne

Thanks for the encouragement, Dahalia!

We've been collaborating with one of our research colleagues, who is blind, to gain her insight and feedback on how to develop our prototypes for blind and visually impaired learners. She has given us several key takeaways:

(1) Texture is to the blind what color is to the sighted—it helps us distinguish between elements, pieces, and features. So while a stuffed animal might be tactile, if it lacks rich textural contrast then it will feel more like a soft mass than a specific animal or creature. So, we've been working with our sewing interns to design new stuffed animals that exhibit more contrast in their features.

(2) We must support children's agency in their interactions. While this is important for all children, it is especially important for blind and visually impaired learners (and is a principle of inclusive design). Thus, we are working to extend our voice interaction with multimodal tactile inputs to give children more agency in directing the flow of their stories. And yes, we use the tenets of universal and inclusive design to guide our process—meaning we apply the lessons we learn from our diverse populations and integrate those insights into our prototypes for all.

http://universaldesign.ie/What-is-Universal-Design/
http://www.inclusivedesigntoolkit.com/whatis/whatis.html
https://idrc.ocadu.ca/about-the-idrc/49-resources/online-resources/articles-and-papers/443-whatisinclusivedesign
https://inclusivedesignprinciples.org/

Thanks for advocating.

Keep in touch,
Layne

Thanks for the kind words, Winnie!

Good questions. In early pilots, we actually used the Wizard-of-Oz style of prototyping in order to quickly gain insights about the interaction experience before sinking time and resources into costly development. This allowed us to test our interaction model and rapidly iterate on our design.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wizard_of_Oz_experiment
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VPVec5eupTY
https://blog.prototypr.io/wizard-of-oz-prototyping-process-blog-a20ffce8886
http://futureofstuffchallenge.org/download/prototype/bootleg-wizardofoz.pdf

To implement this interaction model in our mobile application technology, we first needed to analyze audio and video recordings of the storytelling interactions to determine the architecture. It was a lot of data!

Now, we've been working on calibrating our voice interaction to handle the turn taking. It's not easy. However, we've been inspired by our interviews with several speech language pathologists (therapists) who work with bilingual children. Our tenets for development is that the robot shouldn't interrupt the child, and should give them enough time to think through their responses.

What challenges do you face in your work?

Best,
Layne