Megan Chiou, Alfredo Sandes, and Kunal Chawla
The jury loved that Tink uses ambient data and does not require any physical or electronic connections (besides an endpoint) to be usable. It’s made to be implemented in your own environment and with devices and objects around you, rather than needing a discrete set of actuators designed for the system. It’s very simple and approachable for a wide range of ages, and a really nice soft introduction to procedural thinking for kids.
Tink is a toolkit that allows kids to engage with familiar objects in new ways. The kit includes six sensors (light, sound, tilt, vibration, motion, temperature), six plugs, and an iPad application that connects the sensors with the plugs. Using Tink, kids can control items in their environments using sensory input, such as "if dad comes home, surprise him with his favorite song," or "if someone opens my diary, scare them with a sound."2. The Brief: Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the context for the project, and what was the challenge posed to you?
Children have limited control over their environments. When they enter a room, it’s typically the construction of an adult – such as a teacher or a parent. Instead of existing in spaces dictated by others, Tink enables kids to experiment, manipulate and interact with their environments in new ways.3. The Intent: What point of view did you bring to the project, and were there additional criteria that you added to the brief?
We wanted to explore a new type of construction kit. Many toys encourage space creation from a blank slate using prefabricated materials and piece. We wanted to utilize a child’s existing environment and play spaces to create a rich physical interface consisting of objects that were familiar and meaningful.4. The Process: Describe the rigor that informed your project. (Research, ethnography, subject matter experts, materials exploration, technology, iteration, testing, etc., as applicable.) What stakeholder interests did you consider? (Audience, business, organization, labor, manufacturing, distribution, etc., as applicable)
We started the project by speaking with various children, teachers, and parents to better understand making behaviors and modes of interaction with kids and early teens (6-14). We learned that the current ways kids create spaces are through construction (decoration, building) and sound (music). However, constructing and play has different intents at different ages. Younger kids enjoy effects such as sound and light with or without purpose. However, for older kids, intent was important, though this intent could vary from pranking to convenience.
Through the initial research, we wanted to experiment with a new mode of construction that could be customized for various purposes. We thus decided to create a platform that experimented with both physical objects and interactions. After iterations of prototyping with different materials (wood versus silicone), testing (usability, form – combining or splitting sensors), and troubleshooting, we developed Tink.
Tink gives kids access to an alternate form of making. During a time when smart objects are becoming more prevalent, a question that we thought about is what does this world look like for kids? We see Tink as a playful, interactive, and inventive way to interact, play, and create in this new world.