Design Thinking, Product Design, Health Care
Meet Peet is a device that encourages good reading habits in young children. It detects a person’s distance from what they’re reading, the lighting in the room, and their posture. My team, which consisted of a cognitive science student, two mechanical engineers and I worked to develop a form factor that would encourage children to use the device. I was later taken on as a co-founder of the company.
In the US, up to 40% of children have Myopia (near sighted vision). In China, over 70% of children have Myopia. While genetics is a huge factor, poor reading habits also contribute to the increased development of Myopia.
My team and I were given technology that used computer vision to monitor a child's posture, the lighting in the room, and the child's distance to what they're reading. Our challenge was to design a form factor that met the following guidelines:
- Must rest in the facial region
- Cost: $50 - $75
- Must promote healthy reading habits and lifestyle
We began by researching the wearable market. We found that some existing wearable devices included watches, bracelets, clips, glasses and arm bands. Some features included activity and fitness trackers, alert systems, and customizable attachments. Many of these devices cost anywhere from $90 - $150.
In China, bars are sometimes installed in classes to ensure that children are reading the correct distance away their material.
What age group is most appropriate to design for? What are kids current reading habits?
In order to answer these questions we reached out to different children's organizations, including the Berkeley Public Library to explore how kids interacted with their reading material.
Because vision becomes worse gradually, it's difficult to encourage children to develop good reading habits before it's too late. Many kids valued their vision, but had no idea what good reading habits were and did not make an active effort to find out.
How can we use technology to encourage kids to improve their reading habits without furthering their dependence on technology?
Gamifying the Solution
Drawing inspiration from Tamagotchi, we designed a device that aimed to create emotional attachment between the child and our device. Because Myopia is a problem that develops with time and has no immediate adverse effects, parents have a difficult time telling their kids not to hold technology too closely or not to read in dim light.
Because doing seemingly meaningless actions for 'good eyesight' is a difficult concept for children understand, we aimed to create incentive in the form of a device that emotionally reacted when a child had incorrect reading habits. By creating a feedback loop, we wanted children to be externally motivated to change their reading habits for the better.