Interactive Eating Experience for Toddlers

wte-landing-toddler-gear-big-spoon-full

Soup-sensitive spoon idea was one of the ideas that I came up with after the “innovative switch” assignment.  In this idea I approached to the soup as a conductive material which closes the circuit by behaving as a natural switch. When the spoon is dipped into the soup the circuit is completed and the LEDs light up.

Later on, as a collaborative work we (me with Lance Green and Brandon Washington) made a video storytelling of the spoon. I couldn’t imagine that this video would cause the amazing reaction of my 2 years old cousin.  In this video you can see her enthusiasm when she sees the LEDs light up when they are dipped into the soup. According to what her mother said, my cousin Asel, who recently started to speak with words, says “again” when the video is over and she points the spoon with her finger when the spoon is lit up.

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This reaction made me think about the design opportunity for the eating experience of toddlers. As far as I know, many parents have troubles feeding their little children.

Then I talked about this idea with one of my undergrad professors who is a father of two lovely toddlers.

Some questions, insights and opportunities popped up during our talk. Here are some of them:

Is it the toddler or the parents who is responsible for this appetite problem?

Is it possible to help parents to understand their toddlers regarding their eating aspirations?

Toddlers are intelligent, they learn quick and they get bored quick.

How might we design an enjoyable and interactive eating experience for toddlers?

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Having drawn several ideas, I came up with these ones: soup-sensitive spoon with “light” or “music” feedback.. An interactive toy that communicates with the spoon, in order to show that its stomach is getting full as the toddler eats..

These ideas are in a grey zone for me and I am afraid of receiving unexpected reactions from the user. Because the user usually behaves in a highly unexpected way.

Here are some technical questions that makes me confuse:

Is capacitive sensor is sensitive to baby food?

Since I will probably be using electrical stuff in the product, would it be suitable toddlers? (regarding the safety)

How could it be possible to wash the spoon without harming the circuit?

How does a capacitive sensor works actually?

Do I need an Arduino board for this idea or is the capacitive sensor that doesn’t require any board  suitable for this project?

One thought on “Interactive Eating Experience for Toddlers”

  1. learn about capacitive touch sensors here: http://playground.arduino.cc//Main/CapacitiveSensor?from=Main.CapSense

    Yes, there are stand-alone capsense boards, here is one: http://www.adafruit.com/products/1374

    even if you need a full arduino, the arduino micro would fit in your spoon handle.

    You’ll be making a prototype, you could make a 3d printed enclsure. products for children undergo lots and lots of safety testing, so it’s not feasible to make an actual product for children in this course, but you could make a functional prototype.

    take a look at these projects:

    http://web.media.mit.edu/~silver/drawdio/
    http://www.colorforms.com/brush-with-genius.htm

    I don’t think you should make a bear/toy with a stomach that fills up, but rather stick with just the spoon as the object. in the last iteration it was great to see the fascination focused on the eating implement, and if the object that lights up is separate from the dish/utensil, i feel the focus will be shifted away from the food.

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