Project Length: 4 weeks
Project Date: 2015
Collaborators: Individual Project
Playing in the Rain
Goal: create a delightful experience to enhance playing in the rain
Deliverable: wearable technology
What I made.
Parents don't want their kids to play in the rain for fear of them getting sick, so there is a huge market gap in toys made specifically for playing in the rain. The solution was to amplify the experience of jumping in puddles. When a child wears the coat and jumps in puddles, sounds are emitted from the hood of the coat. This creates a safe and exciting interaction, and is incorporated into actions children already enjoy. I created an experience that children could have spontaneously or while in transit.
I made this coat which allowed me to express what the garment would look like in reality, and not worry about electronics.
After exploring a variety of materials, I ended up choosing wax-coated cotton for the outside of the jacket and a wool lining. The coat is waterproof, so parents do not have to worry about children getting wet.
Electronic & Code Prototype
I made this circuit which allowed me to express the interactions of the garment without having to worry about what it looks like.
While prototyping with electronics, I used a pressure sensor attached to an Adafruit Music Maker shield and two small speakers, placed into the hood. The circuit board is placed on the back of one of the shoulders, so it doesn’t restrict the child’s movement, and the speakers are placed on the outside of the garment, so the child’s ears won’t be damaged.
I made this video which allowed me to express how the whole system works with a child actually interacting with a puddle.
How did I get there?
Market and user research
I made this slide deck which allowed me to express where my toy was positioned in the marketplace and what users said about why there are no rain toys.
The first image here is a competitor landscape demonstrating where my toy sits in the marketplace and showing examples of the three types of toys I am combining. It also has an interaction diagram at the end which shows the feedback loop I created.
Sewing and electronics
I documented the process of making the coat, which allowed me to show off how I learned to sew and created several circuits to test.
I explored lots of different materials and forms as well as different electrical options while prototyping. I made a total of three jackets and four circuits throughout the process. I experimented with using circuits when it was raining and while jumping in order to find the right feedback for my user. I found through this process that sound would be most compelling.
Feedback Loop Diagrams
I drew these diagrams which allowed me to sketch my feedback loop without having to make too many circuits.
These are diagrams of feedback loops I drew to express different concepts. I took these to parents and got feedback about how they thought kids would react to the interaction.
I composed these sounds which allowed me to experience what repetition might look like.
I had a lot of fun exploring the sounds with my friend Rich Macy, who is a local musician. We collaborated on simple, delightful one-second sounds that could be combined to mimic rain drops.
Next Steps & Key Learnings
In this project I learned the beauty of designing simple feedback loops. I find that this is a tool in my tool belt that can be used widely and effectively. I learned a lot about the dynamics between parents and kids, and how to design products that have both users in mind.