Pixel is a wearable computer that augments physical games by adding a virtual elements.
This project started as an assignment for Carla Diana's Smart Toys Class at UPenn. We were tasked with the challenge of creating an internet connected toy for children. We wanted to know how can we make physical games better by adding a digital component?
We grew up playing physical games like tag and football, and also virtual games. We recognized that both digital and physical types of play are great, but wondered why they had to be mutually exclusive.
We started off with the design hypothesis that children are inherently high energy, social beings, and are currently spending too much time in front of screens.
A sound game combines digital and physical elements for a compelling experience.
After interviewing countless children, we learned that children love tag games and they primarily wanted five features: multiple players, power ups, night time play, a scoreboard, and the ability to customize the games and accessories.
We took these learnings and came up with the concept of an extremely lightweight connected wearable that connects and responds to a touch sensitive vest. The wearable is designed for both individual play and group play, and it enhances physical games, by adding a digital layer to the physical world, with simple hardware and intuitive software.
To get a better sense of how children could use Pixel to make games better, see this demo of Zombie tag. Each node represents a child wearing the Pixel. When a user gets tagged, the Pixel turns red and the player becomes a zombie. This can get even more exciting if we add power ups, so that a user can 'heal' infected players.
We mocked up an iOS app to show how kids would interact with the Pixel.
The app allows us to quantify physical games with a digital scoreboard, randomized power ups, and real time updating.
Eventually, we'd like to enable children to design and share their own games using the app.