5 important things to keep in mind while designing digital products for kids


I came up with this article written by Sharna Jackson and I think it’s really relevant to research I’m doing. She talks about the most important things that she learned in her career, which was mostly focused on designing digital products for kids. I will break her points that I found interesting and elaborate on each of them.

  1. You really need to know who your audience is. It’s important to clearly define the audience and keep that in my mind all the time. I need to know what kids are interested in and to what they potentially can have interest to. Kids is a broad term and 5 years old kid is really different to 9 years old kid. My primary focus for now I think is kids around 8 years old.
  2. Sometimes kids don’t really know what they want for sure and you should be the one who would know it better.
  3. Most of the time kids do not want to appear babyish, so while designing it’s important to age them up.
  4. Usually kids design products target dual audience. Think about it. My potential dual audience could be also teachers and parents.
  5. Know what you want and why you want it. Its important to have clear arguments behind each step. I should not just do it because I like it that way, but because there is a reason to it.
  6. Talk to people who are experts in that filed, use they experience. So I need to make connections with teachers who are dealing with around 8 year old kids.

Processing Code

Here is a link to processing code

//Solar Winds Disturbing Migration 
//by AJ LeVine 2014

//thanks to the coding help session on friday for teaching us how to make rain
//thanks to João Pedro Gonçalves for helping explain minim to me

//initial variable setup

//import Minim
import ddf.minim.analysis.*; 
import ddf.minim.*;     

Minim minim;
AudioPlayer player;
AudioInput in;
FFT fft;

//numbers of raindrops and birds on screen
int numRain=200;
int numBirds= 100;

//speed and rejuvination of raindrops
float x[] = new float[numRain];
float y[] = new float[numRain];
float speedY[] = new float [numRain];

//speed and rejuvination of birds
float xx[] = new float[numBirds];
float yy[] = new float[numBirds];
float speedXX[] = new float[numBirds];
float speedYY[] = new float [numBirds];

void setup () {
  //size of screen
  size (1280, 848, P2D);
  // audio setup
  minim = new Minim(this);  //Create minim
  in = minim.getLineIn(Minim.STEREO, 512); //setting mic input
  fft = new FFT(in.bufferSize(), in.sampleRate()); //config FFT
  fft.linAverages(10); //divide frequencies into ranges
  player = minim.loadFile("exbirds.mp3", 2048);
  //setting up placement movement of initial raindrops
  for ( int i=0; i < numRain; i++) {
    x[i] = random(width);
    y[i] = random(height);
    speedY[i] = random( 5, 10 );
  for ( int b=0; b < numBirds; b++) {
    xx[b] = random(width);
    yy[b] = random(height);
    speedXX[b] = random( 1, 3);

void draw() {
  //redraw background or maybe an image soon
  //setup audio
  fft.forward(in.mix);  //get mic audio
  float fft1 = map(fft.getAvg(1), 0, 10, 1, 10); //setting the mic input to eventually control speed of birds

  //place random raindrops on screen
  for ( int i=0; i < numRain; i++) {
    fill(random(60), random(60), random(120));
    ellipse( x[i], y[i], random(5, 10), random(15, 40) );
    //rays of light and bizarre solar wind giving our birds a difficult time during their migration
    fill(random(255), random(255), random(255), random(60));
    triangle(x[i], y[i], random(10, 20), random(10, 20), random(10, 20), random(10,20));
       if (y[i] > height) {
         y[i] = 10; //ensure that they start towards the top of the screen when regenerated
         x[i] = random(width);
         speedY[i] = random (5, 10); 
       } else { y[i]+=speedY[i];
    //place random birds on screen
  for ( int b=0; b< numBirds; b++) {  
    fill(random(255), random(255), random(255), random(255));
    rotate(0.9); //rotation not only rotates shape, but movement as well, it did what I wanted but when I tried to unrotate the movement it made things even weirder
    rect( xx[b], yy[b], random(10, 60), random(10, 60) );
         if ( xx[b] > width || yy[b] > height) {
           xx[b] = random(width);
           yy[b] = random(height);
           speedXX[b] = fft1; //random(1,5);
         } else { xx[b]+=speedXX[b];

void stop()

Tools for marketing children products to increase sales

I was reading about children pshycology and doing research on their consuming preferences in the context of food. Before children turn six they usually just consume what they parents offer them and parents are trying to choose the most nutritious food for their children. When they turn six, children begin to strongly influence the purchase of food. At this age, most of them get their first pocket money and they spend it on snacks. Children choose tasty and trendy products, and not really healthy. Most often, they get soft drinks, chocolate bars, chewing gums, chips. That is why snacks are focused primarily on the teenage audience. The share of consumers of chips among adolescents is 83%, whereas among adults – only 39%.

I also found an interesting information about tools for marketing children products. The most effective way to communicate with children is to use characters and images. Children are the most active consumers of licensed products and the share of children’s products is more than 50% of the modern licensing market. According to research company Synovate Comcon, 77% of four years old children initiated the purchase of the goods, when their favorite character was portrayed on the package. The clothes with their favorite characters prefer to wear more than half of children under the age of 15 years. About 20% of children choose hygiene products, food, toys, cosmetics and perfumes with the image of their favorite characters. For them it is common to have a “comics consciousness”. Thus, children are more open to simple solutions and clear attributes. These features of child psychology gave an answer to the question, why heroes of comic and animations occupy the images market leading position. In branding of my product I will make a big emhasize on this.

Nico Chan Muscle Wire Ultrasonic Ranger Experimentation

Original Objective: Use shape memory alloy (muscle wire) to a hand move

My overarching objective was to make a fabric hand curl. I began experimenting with muscle wire and attached it to different materials (including paper, cardboard, fabrics, and organic material) to gauge the range and type of motion.

Physical Set Up (code below)



Circuit: https://circuits.io/circuits/3455000-ultrasonic-ranger-and-muscle-wire

Video demo with paper:

The motion successfully mimicked a finger uncurling with paper. I added multiple paper fingers (series circuit), and tried adding elastic to bring the shape back to the original position. The elastic added too much resistance for the wire, inhibiting the motion.

The material’s sensitivity became an obvious limiter when I switched to other materials. The wire is very weak, and could not move when attached to thin cardboard. I couched the muscle wire to fabric, acting as an embroidery and then attached to an embroidery.

Muscle wire reshaped to person in ball position. Testing if the effect would mimic a person curling into her/himself

Muscle wire reshaped to person in ball position. Testing if the effect would mimic a person curling into her/himself

Embroidered heart, wire couched to back. Attempting to mimic constricting heart.

The person in ball position worked much better than the embroidered heart. However, rather than warping inwards, the entire fabric would warp outwards. With the embroidery, the fabric would move as one piece.

I sought out other materials or attachments that were better suited for the muscle wire. I mimicked Tanz mit uns, and wrapped the wire around a cardboard pole to see if it could shift it. This worked fairly well. I reattached the wire to paper, however this time a printed photograph. I used Dorothea Lange’s photograph, “Migrant Mother” and attached wire to the eyebrows and mouth, to see if movement could bring out more emotion, particularly feeling of anguish. This did not work well because the entire paper weight was too much for the wire.

I then attached the wire to a leaf. This material was light and flexible enough for the wire to move yet still remain contained. Most projects involving muscle wire have plant themes, which I confirm seems to be a very appropriate, immediate visual connection. This material worked extremely well, however threading the wire through the material had issues. The leaf tore and the hot wire also burned the leaf.

Video documentation of wire on fabrics/leaf:


/* Ping))) Sensor

// this constant won't change.  It's the pin number
// of the sensor's output:
const int pingPin = 7;

void setup() {
  // initialize serial communication:
  pinMode(7, INPUT);
  pinMode(13, OUTPUT);

void loop() {
  // establish variables for duration of the ping,
  // and the distance result in inches and centimeters:
  long duration, inches, cm;

  // The PING))) is triggered by a HIGH pulse of 2 or more microseconds.
  // Give a short LOW pulse beforehand to ensure a clean HIGH pulse:
  pinMode(pingPin, OUTPUT);
  digitalWrite(pingPin, LOW);
  digitalWrite(pingPin, HIGH);
  digitalWrite(pingPin, LOW);

  // The same pin is used to read the signal from the PING))): a HIGH
  // pulse whose duration is the time (in microseconds) from the sending
  // of the ping to the reception of its echo off of an object.
  pinMode(pingPin, INPUT);
  duration = pulseIn(pingPin, HIGH);

  // convert the time into a distance
  inches = microsecondsToInches(duration);
  cm = microsecondsToCentimeters(duration);

  /*Serial.print("in, ");
  if (inches<10){
   digitalWrite(13, HIGH); 
  } else{
   digitalWrite(13, LOW); 


long microsecondsToInches(long microseconds) {
  // According to Parallax's datasheet for the PING))), there are
  // 73.746 microseconds per inch (i.e. sound travels at 1130 feet per
  // second).  This gives the distance travelled by the ping, outbound
  // and return, so we divide by 2 to get the distance of the obstacle.
  // See: http://www.parallax.com/dl/docs/prod/acc/28015-PING-v1.3.pdf
  return microseconds / 74 / 2;

long microsecondsToCentimeters(long microseconds) {
  // The speed of sound is 340 m/s or 29 microseconds per centimeter.
  // The ping travels out and back, so to find the distance of the
  // object we take half of the distance travelled.
  return microseconds / 29 / 2;

Nico Chan: Lace: An Explanation, History, and Projection

“Of many Arts, one surpasses all. For the maiden seated at her work flashes the smooth balls and thousand threads into the circle, … and from this, her amusement, makes as much profit as a man earns by the sweat of his brow, and no maiden ever complains, at even, of the length of the day. The issue is a fine web, which feeds the pride of the whole globe; which surrounds with its fine border cloaks and tuckers, and shows grandly round the throats and hands of Kings.”

— Jacob van Eyck, 1651.

After celebrities seemingly competed over who could wear the most future-forward, metallic outfits at the Met Gala, visitors may have been belatedly surprised to find “Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology” remarkably unlike a dramatic science fair. The exhibition explored the relationship between handmade and machine made fashion[1], and featured sections on lacework, embroidery, and pleating. The inclusion of such classical elements at an event oozing modernity may have surprised casual onlookers, yet the evolution and adaptation of traditional forms in fashion are what shapes the future. In this essay I will focus on lacemaking, and explore its fundamental composition, history, and modern adaptations.

Lace is a lightweight, openwork web. It is highly decorative and offers no protective or insulating functionality. There are two main types of lace: one made with a needle and thread, and another made with a series of threads and bobbins. Needle-made or needle-point lace, the former, uses a single, continuous thread and is classified as a single element and two single element structure. Bobbin or pillow lace, the secondary form, is created using “a group of many separate threads whose handling is facilitated by the use of bobbins and pillow”(Emery, 56). These separate threads are fixed on one end, weighted by the bobbin at the other end, and create a set-of-elements form. Threads can be a variety of different materials, with linen, silk, and cotton being historically popular choices for handmade lace.[2]

The precise details of when, where, and how lace originated are unknown. Jonathan Janson writes, “Lacemaking as a separate craft is supposed to have its origin in the Middle Ages in Italy. However, some authors assume that the manufacturing of lace began during Ancient Rome, based on the discovery of small bone cylinders in the shape of bobbins.” The earliest reference to lace allegedly appears in the fifteenth century, when Holy Roman Emperor Charles the Fifth decreed lacemaking was to be taught in Belgian schools and convents[3]. Soon, orphanages funded by the Catholic Church also taught lacemaking to provide young girls a skill to support themselves.

Manufacturing lace was a significant source of income and growth for many during this time period. Whole communities were built around and relied heavily on its production. Many anthropologists credit the lacemaking industry as one of the earliest means for a woman’s financial independence. Johannes Vermeer’s painting The Lacemaker (Fig. 1) seemingly acknowledges this, as it depicts a young woman making bobbin lace, thereby paying homage to the medium and recognizing the prevalence of lacemaking in the seventeenth century.

Lace was an extremely expensive, highly prized commodity used for embellishing everything from garments to caps, pillows to tablecloths. A large part of lace’s popularity was its practicality. While impractical as a base or apparel fabric, Lace was a far more practical embellishment than its fashion predecessor (embroidery) since lace could be attached and removed from clothing relatively easily.

At the peak of its popularity, all but the lowest classes donned elaborate ruffs, which each required several yards of costly lace to make. Carolynn from Off The Grid News reports, “Wealthy aristocrats wore lace as a sign of their prestige and style, and young women included lace in their dowries, along with gold and other valuables. The division of lace among family members was even included in wills, and lace was passed from generation to generation.” Lace was a truly precious commodity because of its labor-intensive production.

A significant point in the history of lace is Queen Victoria’s wedding in 1840. At this time, demand for lace had waned. The French Revolution’s destruction of the royal court and its luxury industries reduced lace’s desirability. Further, the Industrial Revolution increased the supply of lace in the nineteenth century. In 1809, John Heathcoat invented a machine that could produce the most tedious element of lace, the mesh ground that did not unravel when cut[4]. A variety of patterned machine laces became available, and soon every handmade-lace had a machine-made copy. But after Queen Victoria chose a white wedding dress adorned with lace over a traditional dress made of heavy silk satin, white weddings, white dresses, and lace-trimmed veils came back in fashion. While she was not the first royal to wed in white, she is credited with the revival of lace’s immense popularity today. White lace today has become emblematic of grace and elegance, with a solidified presence in weddings and haute couture fashion.

Machine made lace largely displaced the handmade lace industry. In the Science Channel’s walkthrough of the modern manufacturing process, viewers see hundreds of nylon or polyester threads become unwound, separated, and configured. Stretched threads are kept untangled in a maintained formation, and are then wound on a large spool called a ground beam. Complex patterns are interwoven with another set of threads into the ground beam, guided in the lace-making machine by a jacquard card.

The lace that emerges from the lace machine passes through a set of mechanical knives that cut loose threads, and a quality checker then reviews the lace for any missed threads or necessary repairs. The lace is dyed, and then treated with chemicals to be softer and resist shrinkage. The product is washed, dried, and finally shipped of in massive reams. The process is completely different than Vermeer’s tedious image of lacemaking, and the end product also incomparable in scale.

Modernization has expedited the production of lace, exponentially increased yield, and debatably risen the quality since designs can now be much more elaborate. In the current fabric market, beautifully complex lace is very inexpensive. Experimentation with alternative materials has enabled artists to further change perception of lace. Gold wire was used historically in manufacturing lace, but the increased accessibility of metal wiring in modern times has broadened the creative landscape. Artists continue push the boundaries of what we consider as lace by creating extremely elaborate, even 3D lace sculptures.

Metal lace jewelry (Fig. 2) uses traditional hand manufacturing techniques but with wires. Artist Lieve Jerger uses copper wire instead of traditional threads to create thought provoking sculptures that juxtapose the soft delicate associations of lace against the hardness of metal. Her sculpture Quantum Lace Cube (Fig. 3) is undeniably modern, yet rooted in the history and creation of lace.

Laser cutting in particular has also revolutionized the concept of lace, as the likeliness of lace is used for decorating apparel, purses, wallets and invitations. Laser cutting can efficiently replicate the intricate look of lace, but without the structure. When this is applied to harder materials, like metals, the concept of “what is lace?” comes to the forefront. Is the process integral in what constitutes as lace? How does material experimentation change our perception of the fabric?

Lace is a traditional art form that allows imagery to be suspended in space. Holes are purposefully worked into the being of the fabric, and the intricacy has charmed people for hundreds of years. Questions of what constitutes as lace have emerged in recent centuries, as the mode to production has evolved. New materials complicate the subject, as products made with lace-making techniques do not necessarily resemble lace, and products made without lace-making techniques can resemble lace. Versatility has always been a foundational element to lace, so the only certainty may be its appearance and influence in alternative forms for years to come.

Fig. 1. The Lacemaker. Johannes Vermeer, 1669-1670

Fig. 2. Bobbin Lace Wire Necklace. Heike S. Mueller

Fig. 3. Quantum Lace Cube. Lieve Jerger, published on the Textile Arts Center, 2010.

Works Cited and Referenced

Emery, Irene. The Primary Structures of Fabrics. Washington: Textile Museum, 1966. Print.

Goldenberg, Samuel L. Lace: Its Origin and History. New York: Brentano’s, 1904. Project Gutenberg. Web.

Janson, Jonathan. “Lace and Lacemaking in the Time of Vermeer.” Essential Vermeer. Web. 11 Oct. 2016.

Leader, Jean. “The Origins & History of Lace.” The Lace Guild, Web. 11 Oct. 2016.

The Science Channel. “Lace.” How It’s Made. 21 May 2013. Web. 12 Oct. 2016.

“Manus X Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Web. 11 Oct. 2016.

Mueller, Heike S. “Bobbin Lace with Wire.” Wire Bobbin Lace. Web. 13 Oct. 2016.

The Textile Arts Center. “The Lace Princess.”  18 Aug. 2010. Web. 13 Oct. 2016.





[1] For more information about Manus x Machina see Yotka, Steff. “Inside the Costume Institute’s “Manus X Machina” Exhibition.”

[2] Goldenberg, Lace: Its Origin and History

[3] Janson, “Lace and Lacemaking in the Time of Vermeer.”

[4] See San Francisco Airport Museum, “Lace: A Sumptuous History 1600s–1900s” and Leader, “The Origins & History of Lace.”


Sample Code

This is some sample processing code to post in documentation. You can still add photos or screen captures of your code.

int circ_num;
int csize_lg;
int csize_sm;
int a;

void setup() {
  size (800, 800, P2D);
   circ_num = 50;
   csize_lg = 300;
   csize_sm = 200;
   a = 0;

void draw() {
  translate(width/2, height/2);
  for (int i=1; i<circ_num; i++) {
    //rotate ( a*map(i, 1, circ_num, .00005, .00005));
    fill (map(i, 1, circ_num, 1, random(25, 255)),  map(i, 1, circ_num, 255, random(10)));
    float temp_csize = map(i, 0, circ_num, csize_lg, csize_sm);
    ellipse(0, 0, temp_csize*(sin(a*map(i, 1, circ_num, .005, .05))+1), 
    temp_csize*(cos(a*map(i, 1, circ_num, .05, .0005))+1));