Mapocci, an interactive toy that aims to promote emotional education in children, wins the 'Next Things 2012' award

The prize, jointly bestowed by LABoral Centro de Arte y Creación Industrial and Telefónica I+D [R&D], entails the production of the work through a shared residency in Barcelona and Gijón. Laura Malinverni and Lilia Villafuerte aim to provide new forms of remote communication between children, promoting cultural and emotional exchange

Published: Jan 30, 2012
Mapocci, an interactive toy that aims to promote emotional education in children, wins the 'Next Things 2012' award

An image of the 'Mapocci's' prototipe

Mapocci, an interactive toy designed to promote communication and the emotional education of children aged between 3 and 7 years-old, has been selected as the winning project of the Next Things 2012 award, which is jointly promoted by LABoral Centro de Arte y Creación Industrial, Gijón and the Centro de Telefónica I+D [Telefonica R+D centre]. The latter is based in Barcelona and carries out internet and multimedia research for all the companies in the Group. The goal of this call was the selection of a project which linked art and technology, channeling the enormous potential that lies in the mixing of creativity and the vision of artists with the powerful technologies of the Internet of things and open hardware.

The proposal by multimedia artists Laura Malinverni and Lilia Villafuerte seeks to provide new ways of remote communication, capable of generating empathy networks between children in different places, facilitating cultural exchange and offering a tool for sharing and understanding the emotions of others. The proposal also has other potential applications for the elderly and groups that need special attention.

Mapocci is a device based on a wireless connection system which through a structure of sensors, sound actuators and exchangers allows for the remote communication of emotional states. The mechanism is a stand-alone device and does not require a computer in order to operate.

It requires a minimum of two devices connected to each other. Each one belongs to a child and the physical interactions with a model will be reflected in the behaviour of the other one and vice versa. In such a way a system of bilateral communication is set up, inspired by the functioning of mirror neurons and the Theory of the Mind, which creates a context in which each model works as a metaphor of the other. In this way, the non-tangible interconnected links that exist between all human beings, and the active role played by each one in determining the sensations and emotions of the other one, are highlighted.

In the prototype version two connected Mapocci models will be built during a three-to-six month artist residency, starting 12th March 2012, which will take place at Telefónica I+D Barcelona, and at LABoral Centro de Arte y Creación Industrial, Gijón. The Project will receive €12,000 gross, provided by Telefónica to cover all the costs related to the grant: production, travel, fees and other general expenses.

The Jury that decided the result of  this award was formed by Pablo Rodríguez (Telefónica Digital), Oriol Lloret (Telefónica Digital), Ramon Sangüesa (Co-creating Cultures / UPC), Benjamin Weil (LABoral), David Pello (LABoral), El Último Grito (group of designers formed by  Roberto Feo and Rosario Hurtado) and Antonio Lana, Director de ibcMAS, representing Cluster TIC Asturias. All of them agreed on highlighting the artistic innovation and the scalability of the proposal by Laura Malinverni and Lilia Villafuerte, as well as the potential its possible applications hold for children and Alzheimer’s sufferers, and for the development of relations between different communities. A total of 38 projects from all over the world were presented for the award.

THE AUTHORS
Laura Malinverni is a multimedia artist and researcher in the fields of art, technology and education. Her main interest is in using an interdisciplinary perspective to develop new technologies and new learning models. She is the founder and president of the cultural association Minipimer.tv – laboratory for production and research in art and technology - and has collaborated in different training and educational projects for children and adults.

Lilia Villafuerte is a digital artist and an interactive multimedia professional who was born in Peru. Her work as a programmer and media artist has been shown in Spain, Mexico, Germany and Peru. Her current research into the use of tangible technologies for children with autism was selected as a case study for the Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2012).

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