Shital Desai is a PhD candidate in the School of Design.
Research areas: Embodied intuitive interaction, Child product interaction, Embodied interaction, Intuitive interaction, Interaction Design, Human Computer Interaction
Embodied intuitive interaction in children
Products and interfaces for children have continued to evolve in terms of complexity—moving from traditional physical products to virtual interfaces and products with embedded electronics (referred to as Tangible Embodied Embedded Interfaces, or TEIs). As the result of this evolution, there is an increasing need to design children’s products through the lens of human factors and child-centred design. Physical products, virtual interfaces, and TEIs can be placed on a physicalvirtual continuum, and can be interacted with through various interaction modalities. While Embodied interactions and intuitive interactions with products can result in positive experiences for children, there is limited empirical research to investigate the potential for product design to facilitate children’s Embodied intuitive interaction. To address this research gap, this study focussed on tactile interaction as an interaction modality to investigate children’s Embodied intuitive interaction. Two experiments were carried out, with children playing with three types of toys: physical, virtual, and TEI. Experiment 1 compared a physical toy with an equivalent virtual app for intuitive interaction and aspects of Embodiment that facilitate intuitive interaction. Experiment 2 investigated a physical product and a TEI for intuitive interaction, and the impact of aspects of Embodiment on this intuitive interaction. A methodology that enabled a thorough elicitation of aspects of Embodiment that facilitate children’s intuitive interaction was developed. Children from 5–12 years of age were observed playing with physical, virtual, and TEI products. In Experiment 1, observations were followed with retrospective interviews. A codiscovery method was used during observations and retrospective interviews. Data was analysed using both qualitative thematic analysis and quantitative analysis. The results suggest that physical products are more intuitive than virtual interfaces. They also suggest that TEIs can also be intuitive, depending on the configuration and integration of the system’s physical and virtual elements. Physical affordances is the primary contributor to intuitive interaction in physical products and TEIs, while virtual interfaces rely on perceived affordances for intuitive interaction. People use natural and deliberate clues to detect physical and perceived affordances, respectively. In the absence of such clues, affordances can remain hidden. Symbolic, deliberate clues are often difficult for children to understand, and they could be misinterpreted (as in the virtual interfaces). This study suggests the use of Embodied representations as deliberate clues. Emergence, scaffolding, and cooperative activity were the next most important contributors to intuitive interaction in physical products and TEIs, and were found to be strongly correlated to physical affordances. The results are transferrable to a Enhanced Framework of Intuitive Interaction (EFII), and provide an enhanced version of the concept. This enhanced version, in turn, leads to new directions for research in the area. More specifically, the outcome of this study is the model for Embodied intuitive interaction (MEII) that represents children’s interaction with interfaces, using tactile interactions. MEII can be used to design and evaluate children’s interfaces for Embodied intuitive interactions. MEII is innovative in its evaluation of children’s interactions for Embodied intuitive interaction. Furthermore, it could be used to design Embodied intuitive products for children. The significance of this study is its empirical verification of claims (in the research literature) that physical products are more intuitive than virtual interfaces. The study has conceptualised TEIs using a physical-virtual continuum and interaction modalities. In so doing, it has paved the way for future research on various configurations that TEIs could offer in terms of physical and virtual integration. Furthermore, the child-centric and design-centric approach to Embodiment and intuitive interaction taken in this study, means that Embodiment need not be visualised as a concept involving bodily movements only, but could also be conceptualised in terms of design aspects.