Children love to play in playgrounds, but playgrounds aren’t well designed for children. Generally, they lack a key factor - the integration of nature in children’s play spaces. Through research, they are also seen to lack outdoor play time. Project Earth-101 aims to combat that with an interactive floor projection of common nature biomes that can be placed in playgrounds to promote longer outdoor play, expose children to different areas of nature, and spark an interest in exploration whilst teaching them the effects of rubbish, flora and fauna on different environments. Physical tokens of these items are included in Project Earth-101 that users can pick up and place into each biome to see their effect on the environment. Each token will either have a positive or negative effect on each biome - each token's effect will vary depending on the biome they are placed in, which users will learn through exploration and interaction, represented by red or green ripple effects that are produced once a token is placed into an environment. Project Earth-101 will be placed near already existing floor structures in playgrounds, such as trampolines, texturised surfaces and other interactible floors, allowing for a seamless introduction of our concept. In our presentation today, we have featured three different biomes for exploration. These are: Ocean, Forest and Arctic biomes. In future, we aim to have this project explore different biomes to promote replayability and provide an extended learning learning experience to the users.
This project used multiple pieces of software for different parts of the project. These included Adobe Illustrator, ReacTIVision and Processing as the main pieces of software.
The physical tokens as well the biomes were created in Adobe Illustrator. Gaby, our lead designer, and Jade were the two group members who managed the design of the central project. Gaby completed the Forest and Ocean biomes, as well as most of the token. Jade completed the Arctic biome, and the penguin token. These biomes as well as some of the tokens are shown above. As for the snowfall, leaf, and wave animations in each of the biomes, this was completed by Yamin and Xuning in Processing, with code.
For identification of the fiducial markers, we used multiple pieces of software: ReacTIVision and Processing, including a TUIO library. ReacTIVision is a software used for fiducial marker identification. It converts the whole webcam image to black and white, and locates a shape that matches the marker. The TUIO library aided by approximating the pixel location of the markers for more accurate identification. In processing, the visuals for each fiducial marker were hard-coded in. This was done through coding in boundaries using x and y coordinates, to segregate the different biomes, allowing for each unique token to either be red, or green depending on the biome it was placed in.
Prior the exhibition, the setup was tested in the workshop. We used the ladder and held the webcam from a height of about 2.4m - the lowest point of the marquee. We intended to use the marquee to hold our webcam, but, onn the day, a rod was ziptied to the ladder, and the webcam was mounted onto it. A photo is shown below.
A projector was used to project the sketch onto the floor. In order to see these images properly, a few pieces of thick, white card were placed onto the ground. Unfortunately, this is not properly seen during the day as the daylight interfered with the projections.
The final exhibition was such a fun experience for all our group members, especially after being the team to win People's Choice Award. Lots of constructive feedback was given to us, as well as positive reactions. Of course, there were items that we were unable to achieve before the day, which would have greatly aided our communication of the concept.
Setup during the day went well, though we had some issues with our Logitech camera - we planned in the workshop to mount it on the marquee, but this didn't happen due to final changes in our exhibit's placement. Instead of being under the lowest section of the marquee at 2.4m, we were placed under the tallest section. To solve this, we took the ladder from the workshop and mounted the camera to a rod that was zip tied to the ladder. The daylight projector also didn't work during the day, but worked beautifully at night.
During the exhibition, our group was surprised at how many people wanted to play with project Earth-101. We had many visitors, which helped us prepare fopr the upcoming assessment. We were plesantly surprised to have Lorna's children interacting with our concept. Coincidentally, they were our target demographic. It was a rewarding experience to see them play with our project in the way we had intended. Other users had fun interacting with our concept too, although some pieces of feedback were given for improvement. One such user suggested to add a rubbish bin to the biomes, so that they could dispose of the trash in an environmentally friendly way.
There are multiple pieces that we would like to have added before the final exhibition, such as changes to our tokens, adding of text and better graphics. Our tokens were very basic. Although they helped to explain our concept well, they lacked a large part of what we attempted to communicate. This was the concept of exploration and actually interacting with nature. Instead of 2D tokens handed to children to play with, we would have liked to create 3D objects that can be scattered around the playground for children to find. Not only will this aid in connecting them with nature, but will also increase their outdoor play time and allow them to collaborate towards a common goal with other children. Another item to be added was text features thorughout the project. Although small, this would have aided in communicating the concept, as we needed to throughly explain this to many of our users on the day. The addition of text would also help us align more with our goals of teaching children about the environment. Lastly, we wanted to add more graphics that would change with the placement of tokens, which would allow our concept to conform more with adaptive surfaces.
As for the future, there are multiple items we would like to add, if given the time and resources. We intiially wanted to add different materials to our biome designs. Due to the different textures of other materials, we wanted to implement felt, pipe cleaners, crepe paper and paper mache items to each of the biomes. These would somehow trigger once a person has interacted with the biome and would add more than just colour, imagery and sound changes to the project. This would have helped Project Earth-101 align more to 'Adaptive Surfaces', and also be a much more hands on experience for our target demographic of children aged 5-6 years of age. Unfortunately, this was a very wide scale concept and would require lots of time and material and would not have fallen under the scope of this course. Thought has also gone into the placement of Project Earth-101 in a real life setting. If given the chance, we would love to place it in children's playgrounds in suburbs with younger families. Additioanlly, this would be a great project to place within school playgrounds to slowly integrate it into normal and everyday life. As for the materials used, more research would need to be done into the implementation of projections during the daytime, as the are not suitable during light hours.
Despite this, the day was a huge success. We all felt rewarded at the end the exhibtion, not just because we won People's choice, but also because the exhibition made all the work feel like it had paid off. As a group, we are extremely grateful for this course. Although it was difficult at times, it pushed us to our limits and let us know what we could achieve as a team. A large thank you goes out to the teaching staff who have helped and supported us throughout this process.