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Playground Design Aimed at Drawing Kids Away from Their Gadgets

Playground Design Aimed at Drawing Kids Away from Their Gadgets
Design

The Rocking Pad uses virtual reality to help kids interact with each other offline

Tiffany Nesbit
  • 5 august 2014

A trip to the playground today is not the same as it was fifteen or even ten years ago. There’s still a slide, swings, and monkey bars, but you’re just as likely to see kids sitting on a bench playing on their tablets as you are to see them play a game of freeze tag. While it is clear advances in technology have helped society progress tremendously, it is also true that digital game play has caused our children to become less active. Lack of exercise is a huge contributor to the staggering numbers of childhood obesity in the United States and around the world, and if more is not done to get kids to become more inclined to physical play, they will surely grow into adults with health problems.

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Designers Ma Hui-Chem, Cheng Yan-Chang, and Fon Mu-Chem collaborated on a piece of recreational playground equipment that would ideally get children away from their gadgets and into more exertive movement. Called the Rocking Pad, their design is like a new age sea-saw, complete with a virtual reality component. At the center, the Rocking Pad has eight different modes of game play. For competition games, children sit at opposite ends of the screen which is located at the center of the hub. Seats can also be moved closer together for cooperative play. To select the game, kids swipe their finger across their choice on the screen, which also serves as a digital game board for choices like pinball. Regardless of which game the children choose, the kids are required to rock up and down during play, giving their abdomen and legs a good work out.

The Rocking Pad has a solar panel to stay energized, speakers to emit sounds during play, and a leaking hole to release water after it rains. It has a touch screen as well as a 360 degree swivel seal and sphere pivot center to provide various angels of play. In addition, the Rocking Pad can link to personal digital devices like a smartphone or tablet, displaying the game from the device onto the Rocking Pad’s touch screen, allowing for immeasurable gaming options.

Gadgets are not going anywhere anytime soon, so the idea of raising a child without them is completely unrealistic. Instead of finding ways to work against technology, however, the Rocking Pad works with it to provide children with safe and healthy exercise without them even realizing it. The Pad bridges the gap between digital play and physical play and encourages children to go outside and interact with each other, in addition to computer screens.

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