Sensory Room 2

Final Presentation slides (12/15/15)

Device Name: Balance Path: so named because the learner works on their balance skills along various paths

Primary Population the Device is Being Developed for:

  • Strivright students
    • Have some type of hearing impairment
      • Use some type of hearing assistive device
    • 3-5 years old
    • Have some kind of sensory processing disorder

target user

Purpose of the Device:

To help students at Strivright improve their balance using audio and visual stimulation as incentive.


The Balance Path game is an Arduino-driven game that consists of a number of pads on the ground. It is intended to help learners (aged 2-5 years old, with hearing impairments and vestibular issues) improve their balance and gross motor coordination. One or two pads light up at a time, and the learner needs to step on a lit-up pad in order to hear audio and see changing light (visual) feedback. The therapist can determine how many steps the learner needs to take to complete the session, or “path”. If the learner steps on a pad that is not lit up, they hear sort of an error message, and just see a brief blinking of red lights on that pad.
At the end of the session/path, Balance Path plays a sort of reward song  and lights up pads all over the game.

Current code for the project


Literature Review(Include information about similar devices. This information should support your choices.)


User Trials(describe who tried the equipment including the point at which is was used and the results of your trials. Please also describe how you organized and carried out the user trials.)

11/17/15: User Testing in class [pictures]:  We got lots of really useful feedback, particularly on the balance game.
We would briefly explain the device the user was going to test and need it was trying to address (we tried to scale this appropriate to the age of the user) and then let the user play with the prototype.  We would then ask questions about what they might change, what they did/didn’t like, etc.

Sensory/Tactile “wall” / box feedback
– 4.5 year old:
– very interested in building with the Legos
– like the lights, but buttons were too hard for her to push on by herself
– liked opening velcro, though seemed to take a little too much physical effort for her

Balance game feedback [prototype initially played one note at a time of a song, often “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” consisted of only 3 pawprints with pressure sensors] :
– 4.5 year old:

– experience was a little slow, maybe need to add more notes to each step
– the sponge in the center of the pawprints was thick enough to throw her off balance a little bit
– she would frequently use just the same leg/foot to trigger different pawprints, and keep the other foot anchored on the ground (not on any footprints)

– 8 year old:

– said that sponge should be better centered underneath the paw (to correspond better in size and placement with the darker pink “pad” of the paw)

– 10 year old:

– said there should be more pawprints so that don’t end up getting legs twisted around each other, and in that case, limit which pawprints would light up after one had been stepped on (e.g., not one too far away, and not one awkwardly placed behind the user)

– 7 year old:

– also inclined initially to just step with one leg, and leave other one rooted to the ground
– asked if he was supposed to match the orientation of his foot with that of the pawprint
– thought there should be animal sound effects

– mother of 7 year old: suggested using chords instead of single notes, and possible conductive foam enclosed in copper tape

– Anita:

– see what literature says about learning balance, e.g., should they start closer together and then work farther apart, or vice-versa?
– how make it durable and cleanable? sandwich in yoga mats?
– what about wires? way to make it wireless?
– way to hang it on a wall also?
– modular?

Over the course of the testing we adjusted the number of notes played per footstep, but it was tricky to find a balance between having enough notes to be stimulating and help the user connect them together to understand the full song, and having so many that the user wasn’t really getting feedback that they were triggering the sounds, because it seemed like the song was just playing by itself.
One of the pressure sensors also got broken during this testing, reminding us that we needed a much more durable setup.

Group Members’ Primary Roles:

  • Manxue Wang,  Interactive Telecommunications Program, Tisch
  • Cindy Yu, Department of Occupational Therapy, Steinhardt
  • Lirong Liu,  Interactive Telecommunications Program, Tisch
  • Nissa Syverson, Digital Media Design for Learning, Steinhardt


Notes:  (Use this area to add images, descriptions, notes about your ideas, successes and failures as well as your processes. Please make sure to date these entries so you have an ongoing description of your work. This section should be updated weekly so that we can see your progress.)

12/12-15/15: Lots and lots of building
– added various audio
– some game effect sounds complements of Glitch

12/8/15:  Prototype with acrylic,  insulation foam and MDF

12/4/15 [via Google Hangouts]: discussed material research we’d found, among other things.
– Decided to go with insulation foam as our bottom layer, ideally 1″ thick, so that there’s distance for the LED light to disperse (we hadn’t gotten the foil to help much
– Decided to make our hexagonal pads 9 inches tall
– Discussed making a pressure plate with foil or aluminum, like this, to avoid buying multiple sensors for each plate, but decided it was likely not too durable, and also aluminum oxidizes over time and that might cause problems long term

12/1/15:  met w. Marianne, who reminded us to make sure we could spread the work appropriately for the last two weeks.
We were planning on making 7-10 pads for the final prototype, depending on how long each one took us to make.

We discussed a few different materials for different layers of the pads, including corrugated plastic, particle board, MDF and acrylic (thanks to Marianne’s suggestion). Acrylic is nice because it can let light through, and also it’s a nice smooth, cleanable surface.

Prototyped with scrap acrylic, MDF and LED

Need to think about:
– the weight of the objects (don’t want to make this too heavy, especially if therapists are storing it somewhere)
– whether they are separately movable, or all part of one single whole mat
– maybe use foil to help the LEDs project more widely
– lighting gels/cellophane as surface that lets light through? no: not very durable or cleanable if it’s getting stomped on, we’d still need another layer on top of it.

Other things to do:
– research types of plastics, and maybe get a few kinds to experiment with
– buy force sensors and LEDs
– try etching acrylic with laser cutter
– does the shape show up when it’s unlit? we’d like it to

11/17/15: User Testing in class [pictures]:

We got lots of really useful feedback, particularly on the balance game. See notes above, under “user testing”.

11/15/15: prototyping session at ITP: pictures
       We decided to focus on just prototyping  two of our ideas for user testing on Tuesday. The sensory puzzle chair and mat has overlapping elements with the sensory wall, and also, Hadassah and Chani were specifically asking about sensory/tactile walls, so we decided to drop the chair and mat. This would allow us to focus better on the other two ideas: the sensory/tactile wall, and the balance/simon says type game that Manxue and Lirong turned into a pretty high fidelity prototype.

11/10/15: meeting
We decided we wanted to prototype at least part of each of three ideas for the user testing:

  • Balance/Simon Says – type game (step/press on spots that light up and each one plays part of a song)
  • Sensory/tactile wall
  • Sensory puzzle chair and mat

11/3/15: Midterm presentation slides

10/23/15: Strivright visit notes

10/16/15: Brooklyn Children’s Museum sensory room visit notes/pictures

9/29/15: initial brainstorm ideas: