Screen-a-boo: A video chat for playing with infants

2021-04-06 / 3 min read
Last updated: 2024-06-07


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Click here to open the source code for the client in a new tab

Click here to open the source code for the server-side in a new tab

UPDATE (Mar 17, 2022): Unfortunately things got corrupted and I lost all my sketches. Note to self, make offsite backups.

Video demo

Opa and Oma (the grandparents) want to interact with their grandchild Rhys, who is far away and with this lockdown going on, there is no way of getting close.

We want something that goes above the regular video chat, we want interaction. The less passive Rhys is while interacting remotely with his grandparents the better.

My initial idea was something to do with robots, I believe my fascination with inanimate things moving would be shared with Rhys.

Child staring at the tablet robot, talking with grandparents

Grandpa waving at child from the tablet robot

Controlling the robot tablet with a joystick

The joystick acts in real time, controlling the robot tablet

Unfortunately, this idea is not feasible with either time or money. So back to basics...

A basic knock-knock game perhaps?

Grandparents on the left, child on the right, video chatting

The child is seeing the screen on the left, while the grandparents are looking at the screen on the right (I mixed up the order, I know)

The door button was activated from the above sketch, triggering a door screen on the child's screen, bringing confusion to the child.

Hopefully the confusion would spark curiosity to knock on the tablet

It would be up to the grandparents to open the door with the click of a button

The door has been opened and lifted, now the child is happy to see its grandparents again

I left the above idea because it might be too much to ask a toddler to knock on a virtual door. Instead, I thought of something involving less self-awareness.

One fascinating fact I remember from my psychology class was that on child development, where if you were to cover your face with your hands the toddler would assume that you disappeared, even though they see your body in front.

I intended to replicate this magic.

I created initial sketches in Sketch and began development right away.

Initial sketches of screen-a-boo