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Little Pen Chef

An interactive motor skills training game

for children with developmental delays.

Designer   Ying-Hsuan Yu
Professor  Hsien-Hui Tang

Software Engineer  Wei-Che Lee, Fan Wang

Occupational Therapist  I-Jin Ho

Technique   Tablet / Android 4.1 or up


/Problem

About 6 percent of the world's children may have developmental delays. These kids need occupational therapy to help them through the early stages of development to catch up with their peers and reduce the negative impact on their future learning. However, the fine motor skills and writing skills training in current early intervention programs can hardly attracts the kids because of their lack of focus. Furthermore, children have no systematic training method for them to practice continuously at home.; parents hardly have materials and time to practice with their children. These situations all reduce the effectiveness of the children's progress.

 
 
With the aid of new technologies, we hope to design a digital game that helps children with developmental delays to do fine motor skills training. It features fun and various manipulating methods which can interest children and increase practice time. The designer cooperate with engineers and therapists to build an interdisciplinary team. All the members work agilely to provide a best solution for the children.
 

/Design

With the rich and flexible features of tablets and stylus, Little Pen Chef provides essential content of traditional training program to help children improve fine motor skills and writing ability. With the vivid animation and individualized grading system, the training game gives children fun and confidence to play and practice repeatedly. It keeps stimulating kids to surpass themselves and finally achieve better results.

The game is divided into 4 parts: cooking soup, grilling fish, making cakes and baking cookies. Fallowing the vocal and graphical tips, children can use the interactive pen (stylus) to manipulate the content of the game. On different scenes, the cursor of the pen will be changed into different cooking tools such as a knife, a spoon, a whisk or a cream squeezer which hint the cooking methods to users. The timing system will count down at every step. The timing bar visualizes remaining time and will pop out a little monster to remind users when time is almost up. When  stages are completed, little monsters can happily enjoy their delicious food. If the kids perform better than before, they will be awarded new star badges.

Moreover, therapists and parents can check out kids' record to get a deeper understanding of their operation and progress status.

 

/Process

User Experience Research

The designer have conducted interviews with 2 occupational therapists and 3 parents to have a deeper look at current training systems and their teaching experience and find out current problems they're dealing with. The designer also took part in children's training sessions to observe current teaching methods and learning conditions. 

User Experience Design & interdisciplinary teamwork   

After the research state, we converted the results into concepts. The designer sorted out some essential training goals proposed by the therapist: stability of the wrist, coordination of metacarpophalangeal, muscular endurance of the hand and ability of drawing straight lines, circles, triangles and squares. Training children to achieve these goals is the core value of the game design.

User Experience Test

 In pilot test we provide 5 children with our first version of prototype. Before and after 12 times of game playing, the occupational therapist conducted professional evaluation to each child. Referring to the results of observation and evaluations, we brought up a revised version. Now we are conducting UX test to verify our design.

 

/Impact

Most of the subjects made significant progress after playing the game for 12 times. The children can fully master the rules of the game and begin to generate connection with it after a little practice. The star badges in different colors successfully stimulate children's ambition to challenge themselves. A subject's mother noted that her son could hold a pen correctly after playing the game for just one time and it amazed his kindergarten teacher as well. A subject had learned to draw circles, triangles and squares after the UX test and made 70% progress. Furthermore, a subject who didn't like digital games due to his capability had perfectly finished all the levels of our game. He even asked his mother for more practice like this game. Positive feedback encourages us to go further and bring our service to more children and their families.

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