PinchFun: A fun, novel environment for developing motor skills
|Dennis Wang presents the PinchFun application at the SGC event. Photo: Wang Yi-fang (王奕方).|
|Members of PinchFun team and advisor Professor Jones Yu. Photo: Wang Yi-fang (王奕方).|
By Department of Computer Science
PinchFun, an application developed by a team of 4 students from Taiwan's National Chengchi University (NCCU) has won first place in the "Games for a purpose" category at the Student Game Competition sponsored by the Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in San Jose, California, in May.
Dennis Wang (王邦任), an undergraduate student in the NCCU Department of Computer Science explains, "We came up with idea for PinchFun during a course on human-computer interaction to address challenges in training children in the development of small motor skills." The activities and tasks involved in conventional motor skills development programs are repetitive and monotonous, reducing learner engagement and motivation, especially in young children.
Based on input from experts in early childhood development, the PinchFun team developed an early prototype to develop small motor skills through game-type activities incorporating animal motifs with the player controlling a dolphin named Amo in a virtual underwater environment. Two sensors are used for user input - the user waves his/her hands over a leap motion controller to move Amo in different directions, and pinches a clothespin-type clip to have Amo blow bubbles and collect prizes. Tests with the prototype found that young users found the game-type experience more engaging and increased their willingness to engage in extended motor skills practice. Tests also showed that children enjoyed playing the game with a parent, each using one of the controllers, and this joint usage helped to drive communication and cooperation between parent and child.
When asked about their future plans for PinchFun, Dennis Wang answered, "We currently have no future plans. Though this does not mean we will suspend the development indefinitely. We would like to develop our ideas more before thinking that far into the future. Our ideals for the future is not limited to just us as developers, but also for the entire early education system as a whole. We wish to integrate technology and early education while working with specialists to innovate children's learning in a more scientific and sophisticated manner."