Gesture-control device Leap Motion officially launches today and an app from TVO is one of the first of 75 available in the new Leap Motion app store, Airspace.
Originally a mouse-controlled activity at TVOkids.com, TVO is launching a gesture-based version of Caterpillar Count that allows kids to move a caterpillar with their finger to help it grow while learning to count in sequence.
Gesture and kids go hand-in-hand and it was this freedom to control technology through motion that was one of the major aspects that attracted TVO to build a game for the Leap Motion platform.
Despite the fact that TVO has the most educational games out of any media broadcaster in Canada, the selection of Caterpillar Count as the first game for Leap Motion was pretty straightforward since research was available on the positive impact of spatial reasoning when learning math aligning well with TVO’s educational objective.
During development, TVO performed a focus group with thirty children between the ages of four to six to gain insights into how kids reacted to this new technology as well as to better understand what nuances may have needed to be considered for the Leap Motion version of the game.
What they found is that kids required some guidance in understanding how to use gesture-control but once they were shown some of the basics, they got the hang of it with no trouble at all.
The focus group did point to a necessary change in the language TVO was using for some of their calls-to-action that were acceptable in traditional mouse and even touchscreen interfaces which did not work within the gesture-control version. When kids were asked to “tap” on a button their immediate reaction was to touch the screen. As such, the team at TVO needed to come up with a word that better instructed the use of motion and came up with Wiggle.
TVO also found that the precision of the Leap Motion device was causing kids to have their caterpillar bump into itself too often and prematurely ending their turn. They had to turn this game mechanic off as it was frustrating kids and taking away from the overall purpose of the game.
“We always want to make sure that we keep the educational objective and mandate at the forefront. If the users have trouble with the technology itself then the educational value is lost,” David Neumann, Manager of TVO’s IdeaShaker Innovation Lab, told Techvibes.
TVO is not new to using emerging technology. They have explored other disruptive technologies in the past including TVO on Demand for Google TV and a multi-player Ping Pong game that transforms your iPhone into a ping pong paddle. Their IdeaShaker Lab, the hub for innovation within TVO, approaches all of their projects through the lens of how technology can impact and enhance TVO’s educational resources for children, current affairs content and other TVO content.
If you have a Leap Motion device, you can download Caterpillar Count for free from the Airspace app store for Windows or Mac today.