Nebula is a new way to engage children ages 4-8 in storytelling and creation.
Nebula is a concept mat that uses cameras and sensors to turn any object
or toy into a virtual object that allows kids to record their imaginative play.
Nebula consists of two parts: the mat and any screen-based device.
The mat is made with conductive material for gesture control and uses 4 sensors to detect and track objects.
Kids record their play-stories, using an empty bottle or their favorite toy.
Any object can be recognized or used as a controller for a virtual object.
The Nebula mat allows kids to have an active role in creating content they can share with friends and family.
I explored many different phone dock styles, sensor profiles/CMF treatments, sensor layouts, mat patterns, and mat closures.
Certain elements like the pill-shaped phone dock were inspired by the existing Google form language.
Conductive thread tests
Final parts and casting process
An earlier concept explored using magnetic building blocks by mapping characters/objects to certain built block configurations (eg: curve + barrel = horse.) We used pattern recognition to map models in Vuforia.
User feature tests
We tested our interactions and early prototypes with two children to see what resonated, what were their natural inclinations, and what made them bored or frustrated.
Voice interaction and hyperbole
Kids use voice commands (eg: "I want") readily. They sometimes ask for outrageous things (eg: "a 100 baby dragons") but seemed satisfied with the result of much fewer dragons.
Physical / Digital interaction
Kids naturally put their toys on the board other than other parts of the table. Guidance in the form of prompts can help kids play and verbalize their story.
Mat/ touch interactions
Gestures on the mat are a more natural way for kids to explore and pan through the scene than in-air gestures.