Trailblazer : Getting children closer to nature
How might we help children establish resilient relationships with their non-human ecosystems (flora, fauna etc) to allow holistic affective and cognitive development in them, during and subsequent to a global pandemic?
What is Trailblazer?
The pandemic has moved the life of people indoors. This has affected the relationships one has with people and things outside their homes. It has also affected the chances of forming new relationships.
Trailblazer attempts to rekindle the relationship between children and the natural ecosystem. The solution directs children to experience natural ecosystem in curated safe spaces through designated tasks. A VUI wearable ensures the journey is documented by interacting with the child when the child attempts a given task. The solution then provides a platform to share these experiences with friends in a novel and engaging way. The platform requires the children to imagine stories around the things they have observed in nature and exchange it with their friends. The entire process is gamified to incentivize and encourage more trails in nature and create more stories.
Why is relationship between children and nature important?
The lack can lead to Nature Deficit Disorder. It is the idea that human beings, especially children, are spending less time outdoors, and the belief that this change results in a wide range of behavioural problems.
Understanding Stakeholders - Empathy Map
Children (8 - 12 yo) in the new normal & parents of these children in the new normal
Unstructured interviews with parents of children (age 8-12) 💬 and literature review 📑 led to the following insights.
1. Children have an active online presence that is closely tied to their identity in social groups.
2. These digital platforms are what children use to communicate and maintain an existing relationship with friends, teachers et al.
3. Despite colloquial assumptions, parents increasingly recognize the importance and relevance of technology in their childhood (given conscientious & ethical constraints)
4. Any real-world experience that a child has in the new normal can only be shared with parents and family.
Given the understanding of children’s behaviour online and its importance and relevance in the “new normal", we saw an opportunity in leveraging games as a medium to engage children in activities centred around knowing and understanding their natural ecosystems better.
Trailblazer attempts to establish a resilient and prudent relationship between children and natural ecosystems. Trailblazer directs children to experience natural ecosystems in curated safe spaces through meticulous consideration for health, security and social distancing paradigms. It also provides a platform for children to share their experiences with their friends in novel and engaging ways.
1. At home
The child gets a haptic notification via the Trailblazer band that notifies him/her to visit the park. He/she gets this notification around once a week so as to not make the process monotonous.
2. In the park
The child taps the band once he/she reaches the park to receive the 'prompt'. These prompts enable him/her to observe things that he/she may have easily overlooked. The interaction with the band uses NLP (Natural Language Processing). The band understands the speech and asks follow-up questions.
3. Back home
The child along with his/her parents onboard the TrailBlazer app.
4. Confirm the found objects
After onboarding, the child confirms the observed objects. If they do not match the suggestions, he/she can choose from the database of objects in the app.
5. Assets get added
The objects observed by the child become 'assets' in the app. These assets can be also used to unlock in-app 'fantasy assets'
6. Creating a story
The child then uses these assets to create stories. He/she can drag and drop assets to do so.He/she can also add an audio rendition to the story. This enables the child to imagine and give meaning to the objects found in the ecosystem.
7. Sharing the story (Donate or Trade)
If a friend of the child is interested in their story, the child can choose to donate or exchange it for another story that their friend has.
8. Seeing friend's stories
The friend's stories are on the home screen.
9. Parental login
Parents approve the location before the trail.
Interaction Design of the Wearable
Benefits of Storytelling
The interactions allow children to create inherent value in non-human entities they would otherwise be nonchalant towards. Storytelling helps in coping with anxiety and stress. It also aids cognitive development. Preliminary research showed a direct relationship between creating imaginative worlds and maturity.
My design process for this project