Neurodivergent kids design their own games with robots and augmented reality

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Researchers at the Interactive Technologies Institute are conducting an innovative research project on co-creating robotic games for neurodiverse children - neurodivergent and neurotypical. It's called DiversiBots, and it arises from the need for a more significant offer of inclusive recreational activities. This need becomes more evident in the aftermath of the World Day of Persons with Disabilities, celebrated on December 3rd.

DiversiBots stands out for being a robotic game co-creation project focused on neurodiverse children, which resulted in creating two main products: the game "The Shark's Escape" and the co-creation kit "PartiPlay". The board game utilises a small robot and augmented reality to offer an inclusive experience to groups of neurodiverse children, collaboratively engaging neurodivergent students, such as those with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or dyslexia, along with their neurotypical peer

It was through several co-creation sessions in a primary school and the support of other organisations that we were able to collect data to produce games that neurotypical and neurodiverse children like to play."

Patrícia Piedade, principal investigator and PhD student at Instituto Superior Técnico, University of Lisbon

On the other hand, the design kit, PartiPlay, is a comprehensive tool that includes accessible manual activities and worksheets, providing valuable resources for other researchers working with neurodiverse children's groups. The project's focus on the active participation of neurodivergent children in creating their own playful moments aims to promote the self-determination of these children, also contributing to a mutual understanding between neurodivergent and neurotypical children, promoting more inclusive educational environments.

Diversity was the main focus in the development of this project. "From the means of expression used in the co-creation process, such as writing, speech and drawing, to the elements present in the game, such as robots, augmented reality and tangibles. Diversity enables the equitable participation of neurodivergent children", says Patrícia Piedade.

In addition, the project has had a remarkable impact on empowering children in game design, attracting a broader and more diverse range of stakeholders in one of the fastest-evolving industries in Portugal and the world.

This project was carried out by a team that joined Patrícia Piedade, namely Isabel Neto, Ana Pires, Rui Prada, and Hugo Nicolau, researchers at the Interactive Technologies Institute and INESC-ID. In addition, DiversiBots is supported by the European project DCitizens, an international initiative led by Instituto Superior Técnico, which aims to promote research and innovation in Digital Citizenship in Lisbon. One of the project's main goals is to train young researchers, such as Patrícia Piedade, to develop inclusive technologies that allow all people to be participatory citizens in the digital age.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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