Running on the Planet

Running on the Planet is a proof-of-concept design through which I want to explore how to design an endless interaction for creativity learning for young children, in order to better help them sustain interest during the learning activity. 

Course Project: research, ideation, design, prototyping

My Role: research, UI and interaction design, prototyping construction, technical solution

Timeline: 2012.11-2012.12


When creating an interactive tabletop systems for children, many challenges are apparent including such factors as attracting attention, engaging interest and sustaining interest. In order to help young children to sustain interest, one possible approach could be designing dynamic experience for users by providing them with continual variation during interaction.

Drawn on this design concept, I started the Running on the Planet project.


Learning Goal

I explored various activities that may help children to learn creativity. Then I focused on drawing and music generation. These two activities are often used to help children to learn creativity by building visual/auditory elements.

Design Goals

In order to create endless interaction, I aimed to create continual variation during interaction experience (“dynamic changes").


Running on Planet is a tangible tabletop activity that allows children aged 4-5 years old to create their own magic world full of music and stories. The system consists of a interactive tabletop and a set of tangible objects such as animals (e.g. fishes, bugs, mammal) and plants (e.g. trees, grass, flowers), man-made artifacts (houses, cars, factories). Children are able to create visual objects by stamping physical objects on the the continually rotating plant. Every stamp will also trigger a piece of music or sound effect. 

The core design feature of the system is the dynamic and endless background of the plant.

The set up of the tangible tabletop

The fiducial markers at the bottoms of the tangible objects

A user is stamping and creating a visual object (flower).

The user is creating multiple objects simultaneously.

The weather changes to rainy.

The time changes to sunset.

Expert Review

I demoed my system to HCI experts and received some feedback including modifying the size of the tabletop, adding controls for the dynamic changing elements, recording and exporting generated music and so forth.

Lessons Learned

1. How to design and implement a tangible and tabletop system

2. How to design for children (symbolic mappings)