Wearable Technology and Toy Design to Ease Children's Fear of the Dark
Fear of Darkness
Fear of the dark is one of the most common fears of children. Around ages 2-3, this fear reaches its peak due to their highly active imagination and their inability to distinguish fantasy from reality (Berman, 2011). Furthermore, the sense of fear serves as a developmental stage: children need to come up with healthy coping strategies. However, if fear is too great, it can harm the individual. For instance, children who develop unhealthy coping strategies, such as sleeping with a caregiver, may cause additional psychological damage. Many children use night lights to feel safe during sleep. On the other hand, darkness is known to be linked to an essential hormone’s reproduction: melatonin. This “Hormone of Darkness” is closely related to the immune system, synthesis of important molecules and oxidative stress. Hence, melatonin is crucial for healthy development.
My aim was to create an environment in which children feel safe during sleep and also, prevent the lack of melatonin production caused by an illuminated environment.
How Does It Work?
Two wearable technologies designed for children and their caregivers.
The children’s device can detect physical changes such as heartbeat, movement, and temperature using sensors. According to the collected data, the system can evaluate if the child is asleep or not. In light of the collected information, the system automatically arranges small lights inside felt toys (light-toys) according to the child’s sleeping habits. Furthermore, speakers inside the playing mat also provide soothing sounds according to these data.
For instance, lights and sounds turn off when the child begins to fall asleep and lights and sounds turn on when the child is about to wake up.
The other wearable device is designed for caregivers. This device enables parents to be informed when their child is awake and needs help because of their high anxiety. Also, the device provides the ability to intervene and change the child’s environment by turning the lights and sounds on and off. Furthermore, the “push to talk” feature allows parents to have personal contact. For instance, parents can say "I will be right there!”. Moreover, the data is transmitted to the cloud, processed and visualized by the mobile application to inform the parents about their child’s sleeping and anxiety patterns.
Ergonomy was an important factor since these wearables are designed to be used during sleep.
Children’s wearable technology contains heartbeat, movement and galvanic skin response sensors to detect if children are asleep or not. Furthermore, comprehending the accurate emotion of these children plays an important role in the process. This device is only used to collect data.
Caregivers’ wearable technology enables parents to receive notifications by vibrating when their children feel highly anxious. Furthermore, they can control light-toys and speakers via their wearable devices.
Design Week Istanbul, 2018
The project was selected by Vestel, which is the biggest electronics company in Turkey, to exhibit in Vestel Headquarters, 2015
The playing mat is designed to be a part of the child’s daily life. The felt toys can be played with anytime, day or night. On the other hand, the lights inside of these toys illuminate at night according to the data gathered from the child’s wearable device. The playing mat is made from felt and toys stick to it with velcro. This mat also serves as an inductive charging unit for these toys. Hence, when these toys stick to this mat they automatically charge. The charger for the playing mat is also designed.
HIRO APP is a phone application in which parents can find detailed statistics about their child’s general sleeping cycle. Also, wakefulness and emotional state can be tracked when their child is asleep. In the information section, tips and tricks about how to approach their children’s fear can be found. Furthermore, light-toys and speakers can be controlled via an application. In case additional, soothing sounds or light-toys are needed, they can be purchased by using the app as well.