On the evocative power and play value of a wearable movement-to-sound interaction accessory in the rich free-play of schoolchildren
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This paper discusses the evocative power and play value of the Wearable Sounds Kit (WSK), a movement-to-sound interaction accessory. Whilst movement-to-sound interaction is attracting growing research attention in HCI, very little of it has been conducted in the context of free-play with children. This paper presents a participatory design study of the WSK with 20 school-aged children (7–12 years old) in a free-play scenario, and an evaluation of the WSK in a playground at Ars Electronica Festival with over 70 school-aged children. The evaluation addressed three research questions: can school-aged children incorporate the WSK into their free-play? What free-play patterns are encouraged by the WSK? Which design features of the WSK influence the free-play experience? By conducting qualitative and quantitative data gathering methods and analyses, which include first-hand observations and video-coding, this paper shows that school-aged children can effectively incorporate the WSK into their free-play, and that the accessory encourages different types of free-play. The results also show differences in the free-play mediated by the accessory depending on the age group and sex of the player, and these differences reinforce the play value of the WSK. Some implications for designing technologically-oriented playful toys are also discussed.