Ladybug is an Interactive Educational Device

We prototyped physical interfaces for an toy that syncs with a live journal


User Reactions

About This Project

‚ÄčThe problem statement was open-ended: "Design a tangible user interface that takes advantage of your hands and body to manipulate digital information". With a mutual interest in education, art, and kids, our team defined a more specific goal: "[To] encourage exploration and early learning for children by giving them feedback on images they encounter in the world."

  • Aim to fade UI into background [intuitive to children]
  • Brainstorming, sketching and quickly made cardboard prototypes to get a feel for our ideas
  • Created a functional device with an interface that supported force and motion based interactions
  • Big takeaway: the sooner you get prototypes into a users hands, the better


Team brainstorming yielded a lot of sketches. Popular theme: exploring (flashlight, walkie talkies, utility belt, butterfly net, ...). We were interested in how we could leverage the metaphor of an existing tool, allowing the technological component to fade into the background.

  • Lots of sketches and mockups of modified tools
  • Excitement around the metahpor of a smart magnifying glass and its potential to get kids to look closer at their environment, and then review what they saw later with parents who can build on those initially visual concepts.
ideation sketch


To imagine our device in the real world, we drew stories around its potential use.

  • Clearer communication of vision enabled better conversations about project
  • Generated new ineraction ideas: touch device to tablet to "send" photo to journal. Hold steady to snap photo
ladybug storyboard


Prototypes began as cardboard, to get a feel for interactions. Then we added force and motion sensing electronics. To capture images, we connected a standard webcam to our python server.

  • Activate device by holding it's handle
  • Capture images while pausing over an object. Use that time to inspect in real life high-definition
  • Review live-journal of what you looked at
  • We hope that the experience of this device would prompt conversations between parent & child.
ladybug prototype components
ladybug prototye

User Reactions

We set the device loose with attendees of the project showcase. Observing how people reacted gave us a lot of ideas for how to improve the interface

  • Discovered non-optimal camera position based on popular looking angles
  • LED feedback ofter went unnoticed and caused confusion as to whether anything was happening
  • The "system status" UI heuristic is especially important with gesture-based interactions
ladybug prototye in use