STRETCH PLAY

The Stretch|PLAY prototype is developed as a part of the Social Sensory Surface research project led by Sean Ahlquist at the University of Michigan.  The research project looks to develop new material technologies as tactile interfaces designed to confront critical challenges of learning and social engagement for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). This interdisciplinary research brings together faculty, students and researchers from Architecture, Computer Science, School of Music, School of Information and Civil Engineering. Additionally, the team includes collaborators in Interaction Design, Occupational Therapy, and from the PLAY project (an early-intervention program in Ann Arbor for improving social interaction skills for children with ASD). For the initial phase of research, a five year-old girl with Autism named Ara is used as the focus of study, to develop technologies which address her specific motoric, communication and social challenges. Ara is the daughter of one of the lead primary investigators, Prof. Sean Ahlquist.

Stretch|PLAY focuses on developing environments for collaborative play through multi-sensory engagement. Collaborative play helps children with ASD form skills in communication and social interaction, following the methods established by the PLAY Project in establishing “circles of communication” or back and forth interactions. Designing for specific sensory inputs and outputs helps the child engage, to improve skills in attentiveness, exploration and regulation. This is exemplified in the Stretch|Play prototype; a project formed of a large-scale textile environment with a range of tactile, visual and auditory feedback. Various sensory outputs are designed as overlays of projections and sound maps. Certain effects are triggered by a single activation point. Other effects are triggers by pairs of activation points, where a back and forth exchange is encouraged for two participants in order to select the set of matching triggers at the same time.

I created the graphics that are stretched across the surface, triggered by touch.