Francesca Grignani


Developing an interactive toy to reduce visual overstimulation during kids' bedtime routine


March 2017 - June 2017 plus following developments


IOT . Product-Service Systems . UI & UX


Research, ideation, device prototype, illustrations and animations


Service design tools, Wireframes, InVision, Ai, Ae, Arduino, rapid prototyping, Keynote


Drowsy is the project for an interactive toy that takes up the challenge of improving bedtime and sleeping for children between 3 and 7 and their families. Developed through extensive user-centred research and collaboration with experts, Drowsy enables fun parent-child activities that decrease the level of excitement before bedtime. Plus, it monitors sleep and offers personalized options to addresses nocturnal awakenings.


TheĀ WHO points out that enough hours of good quality sleep (among 9 and 14 according to age) are essentialĀ to the wellbeing and healthy development of toddlers and kids. However, sleeping time is not always a moment free of worries and tension both for kids and parents, especially due to current lifestyle changes (excessive screen time, sedentary lifestyle, parents working scheduleā€¦). During the academic laboratory of Interaction Design, I and my amazing team - Bartolomeo Balleggi, Emanuelle De Luca, Alessandro Picenoni and Elisa Riboli - have decided to take up this challenge to "project a system of a smart-connected object and a digital interface able to positively impact people's lives", as required by the general brief.


The design process followed a user-centred approach, supported by design thinking tools and methods. In particular, the first part of the research included deep interviews with parents and psychologists, the development of a survey for parents (over 150 responses) and activities to involve kids such as "draw your dream" (with 170 children) and the "diary of dreams" (with 35 parent-child couples). The information collected in these ways, along with extensive desk research, allowed us to develop personas, customer journeys, spot pain points and opportunities and get inspired by kids' interests and inner world.


Drowsy aims to encourage the adoption of a bedtime routine and to favour a healthy relationship of kids with sleep while supporting the caregiver. We found that it's critical, before bedtime, to engage children in activities that are multi-sensorial and progressively more relaxing, avoiding the common overstimulation of eyesight. Also, it's helpful to purpose kids calming stimuli in case of nocturnal awakening to favour autonomy in falling back asleep. So, moving from the beloved activity of the "bedtime story", we developed a relaxing adult-child play where the screen (tablet or smartphone) goes in the background in favour of an experience focused on touch and sound. From this primary activity, we then have turned the other functionalities of Drowsy.

šŸ‘‡ Touch Point 1: device

The first touchpoint is a toy-like device ideally placed on the kid's bedside table instead of the standard night lights. Exteriorly made of smooth untreated wood and silicon (for a pleasant touch), it can emit lights, sounds, and thanks to insides sensors, detect movements. This toy allows the child to interact with the story read by the adult through the dedicated app, adding suggestive sound effects. Each of the possible interactions with the device is related to a specific type of sound during this activity. For example, turning the device upside down would produce "sounds of water" (rain, liquids poured, riversā€¦) or pressing the soft top would result in sounds like steps or trumpets. The toy can also re-produce songs or white noises and light up when the kid awakes, sending a notification to the parents if desired.

šŸ‘‡ Touch Point 2: app

The dedicated application is designed to enable interactions with the device and the play among kids and parents. As the aim to avoid kids having excessive screen time, especially before bedtime, the adult is the primary user. The app appears structured in four sections: kid's profile, interactive stories library, songs/white noises library, and statistics section. The latter collects data about the toddler's sleeping habits. The stories section is supposed to be used jointly by kids and caregivers to choose the tale and play during the reading. Each interactive fairy tale is enriched by essential illustrations and smooth animations, in addition to sound effects: the interaction with the device produces the sound ad activates the corresponding movement on the screen. Sometimes the adult is also called to play, moving the i-pad or i-phone as if it is the kid's device.


This project reached the stage of low fidelity prototype, so it's been possible to test it in real-life settings with some of the kids and parents involved during the research phase. The reactions have been remarkably positive and motivated us to continue developing Drowsy. From a personal standpoint, this work has strengthened my research and teamwork abilities, allowed me to combine many specific competencies acquired during the years and deepened my interest in the field of UI and UX.