Andrea Rosales coauthores a new article with the title “Beeping socks and chirping arm bands: Wearables that foster free play“, published in Computer, the flagship publication of the IEEE Computer Society (IF: 1.438; Q2).
Digitally augmented toys and play areas have the potential to encourage play that is spontaneous, collaborative, open-ended, physical, and social. Sensors can add a new dimension to traditional fantasy and active play as well as social games such as hopscotch. Experts agree that free play is essential in cognitive and emotional development, helping children learn how to evolve and enforce rules and improve their social interaction. Despite these benefits, free play is declining—in part because of the increased reliance on screen-based entertainment and extracurricular activities. Even attempts to broaden structured games through the use of sensing and reacting technologies fall short of exploiting the full range of free-play opportunities. Incorporating these technologies into fixed areas or objects prevents children from engaging in free play incidentally in the doctor’s waiting room or when shopping with parents, for example. Three wearable playful accessories incorporate design principles that promote individuality, natural interaction, ubiquity, and intimacy to encourage spontaneous open ended social interaction in school-age children.