"youniverse" is a brand-new way to explore preschool children’s potential under the pandemic through playing. The service contains a gaming platform with a series of games(visual, aural, physical, and linguistic) designed for children’s development, and a background app for parents to observe and understand their kids better while playing.
Tianshu Chen
Jiayuan Li
Jiajia Huang
Hsuan-tzu Shen
Seonhyo Kim
Exploring children’s interests, knowing more about your kids
Interactive modes and habits shift during the pandemic (interaction methods, social activities started to shift from offline to online). Our society has changed from “High touch” to “Low touch”. Therefore, the use of voice interaction has been considering as a huge market than ever before. Underline the VUI, we have created a voice interaction game "youniverse" to collaborate with MODAL to explore children’s interests, and therefore help parents better understand their kids for the benefits of both parents and children.
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Exploration and Discovery
During the research, we got to know people who are not used to voice interaction. The scenarios applying voice interaction is limited. After further exploration, we targeted our focus group to children from 4 to 6 years old as children are more willing to embrace new tech, and are easier to nurture new habits. More importantly, children at this age are still learning how to read and write. Voice is a vital and essential intermedia between them and the world. In the research process, two rounds of questionnaires had been spread with 238 and 905 feedbacks respectively. Besides, 10 deep interviews had been conducted successfully. The research covers mainly within children's education, concerns about the emotions, and relationships between parents and kids.

Service and Propositions

"youniverse" can help explore children‘s potential and increase their interest in different aspects of life. For parents, this game allows them to better understand their child's interests, making it easier to participate in education, and it also helps parents to reduce some of the 'trial and error' costs. When the user enters the game, there is a tutorial for newcomers. As the child gets older, youniverse will be updated to upgrade the levels and retain the user. The iPad is used as the base gaming platform. The product has a larger user base for easy rollout, and will later be available on Wii/XBOX/Nintendo Switch for a better user experience. After the initial launch of the product using investor finance, profits will mainly come from monthly membership subscriptions, advertising space rentals, and the sale of peripheral products.

Game and App

Our game is mainly composed of 4 planets. Children can pick up visual components on the visual planet, discriminate audio music on the aural planet, conduct logical association questions on the language planet, and perform physical interaction on the action planet. They can collect elemental fragments from these 4 planets separately, and create their little partners by using these elements in the lab. We also design an APP for parents. Parents can use the APP to understand their children's game time and interests and know the children's preferences and personality through the children's own digital partner. We hope this game can help children find different interests, and also help parents know more about their kids.

Prototyping and Feedbacks
We ran 9 testing workshops with kids from 4-7 and received feedback from parents and children. Tools including lllustrator and Google Music Lab were used to create simple interfaces. We acted as VUI to receive voice commands from users and give aural/visual feedback. Kids were attracted by the visual elements, especially the part of creating creatures. Encouraging and rewarding children’s behaviour worked well to increase their confidence to keep playing and trying. For parents, they think the game requires certain language and cognitive skills for kids to make commands to the VUI. There’s a need to design various levels of difficulties for kids of different ages and situations, which would help them observe their kid's interests better. We iterated after each test, including VUI scripts and the content of the game design. Onboarding interfaces were added for parents to select the difficulty and content of a game for their children.
Reflections and Follow-up
Optimisation of game details, for example, the mechanics of upgrading the game and how the difficulty of the game increases as the child gets more skilled. We also wondered if we could work with other games such as “just dance” to add more levels. We found that children of this age group (4-6) cannot read, so voice can replace text as the main interaction method of the game. As for the app, parents actually felt that the length of time spent on playing the game was not a good indicator of their child's true interest, and that they might have spent a long time on the level because it was difficult or for multiple reasons. Therefore, we gave parents feedback through a combination of data. This feedback was more objective for them to judge.
special thanks
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