Gobug is an interactive toy designed to facilitate an inclusive social learning experience for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. However, individuals of all ages and abilities are welcome to join, play, and learn.
The initial stages of design provided us loads of ideas. We held brainstorming sessions where we "let concepts fly." Some ideas were worth further exploration while others were held back. During the same time period, we researched the user. It was important to have an understanding of who we were designing for. These activities were continued for a good portion of time to insure a solid platform to work from.
A lot of our user research was performed on an indirect level. We spoke with occupational therapists and read numerous blogs and articles from research databases. We also took advantage of the Core77 Design Arena for the Autism Connects competition. Through this web forum, designers were constantly given feedback for their work from experts in the field of ASD. We took note of these comments and applied bits of information accordingly.
The next stages involved a constant flow of sketching. We narrowed our concepts down to one and began to sketch again. We performed various iterations on the products function; mainly how the user would interact with product and the other users. We also produced loads of concept art dealing with aesthetics and forms.
In a similar time period, we mapped out scenarios in which the toy would be used. Specifically, we used storyboards to present outcomes. This helped us gain a grasp for what would work and what wouldn't. It also helped us refine our concept into a more tangible and purposeful idea.
From here, we took our concept into CAD and produced a design that best represented our sketch developments and concept art.
Core77: What's the latest news or development with your project?
We are always looking for new opportunities. Gobug has great potential to make a difference in many children's lives. We would love to see it go from concept to full development. There's much work to be done, but the positives that can arise are endless.
What is one quick anecdote about your project?
There was one particular "eureka moment." We spent time talking to and Occupational Therapist. She mentioned how children with ASD responded really well to a product called the Zoom Ball. This is super simple toy; a football shaped ball threaded with two ropes each with handles tethered to their ends. In short, users pick up the handles and guide them to make the ball move back and forth. Children with ASD have to work together and watch each others body language to play with the toy. We took the fundamental principles of the Zoom Ball and re-imagined them into something with a more modern, innovative and versatile twist. Gobug was the outcome.
Gobug is ultimately designed to be a fun experience, one where everyone is invited. Every individual is unique. We all have certain talents and certain challenges, and we all come in different shapes and sizes. One of the best ways to learn about and understand each other is through inclusive activity.