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Last December, I had the opportunity to participate in a workshop led by two designers working at Google, Mountain View: Andy Dahley and Nadim Raad.

The purpose of the workshop was to learn how to use Google Material Design principles in a fictional project that we had to create from scratch.

Since I am more specialized in tangible interfaces, I decided to team up with two other interaction design students specialized in virtual reality: Gabriel Martzloff and Germain Rufflé.

Together, we started the workshop with a brainstorming to find a problem we could solve. We all agreed on working for people that are different from us: we were all tired of designing things for young adults surrounded by new technology like we are. That is why we decided to make children the main target of our project.

We have been inspired by the movie Inside Out which relates the story of Riley, a young girl uprooted from her Midwest life to move to San Fransisco. All her emotions are represented as characters (Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness) to help her navigate in her new city, school and house.

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Inside Out (Pixar Animation Studios, Walt Disney Pictures, 2015)

This movie gave us the main idea for our project: we wanted to help children from 10 to 14 years old to deal with a moving in a new city.

There are different steps in the moving out/moving in process for the child. First, the parents take the decision and talk about it to their child. This can create new feelings for the kid: treason, fear, lack of understanding, etc. Then, the moving out day comes with its bunch of new emotions, as well as the day when the child moves in the new city and goes to school. He can also feel new feelings like nostalgia, loss of his bearings, etc.

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This is the problem we wanted to solve, or at least minimize. Our goal was to create a better transition from one environment to another, to help children understanding their parents’ decisions by discovering a new city and feeling comforted.

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“Keeping the best, moving forward” is the project’s baseline.

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We finally came up with a concrete solution called Backpack. Backpack’s goal is to help kids asserting themselves, anywhere.

logo-backpackBackpack is an app and a plug-in that kids can use to gather all of their interests: YouTube videos, websites, images, places… The purpose here is to make them gather their best memories and everything that builds their personality.

backpack-movie2When children move in a new city, Backpack allows them to explore this new environment to discover new points of interest. They can also find out where all of what they liked before can be found (places to eat pizza, movie theaters, parks, chess club, etc.). This is an exploration phase that can be done with or without the parents. The purpose here is to show children that wherever they are, their personality and interests will always stay around, and maybe even widen.

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Let’s take an example! Here is Simon Dubois, a 13 year-old boy living in Nantes (France). He likes rowing, playing video games and hanging out with his friends.

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Simon uses Backpack almost everyday to gather his interests and keep all the good memories he had.

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Simon’s parents take the decision to move in Copenhagen. They add this new environment to Simon’s backpack.

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Together, Simon and his parents take time to explore this new city that none of them knows yet.

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On their tablet, they can see Simon’s memories and interests located in Nantes. Since they added a new city, those items split and move to Copenhagen, showing that they can still exist in this new environment. Simon and his parents can also discover all of the new itineraries that could be helpful for them, for example to know how to go from home to school.

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On the memories section, Simon can find all the items that he gathered in the past.

We also had the idea to add the possibility of being immersed in the new environment using Cardboard to explore the streets.

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When it’s time to finally move out, Simon is ready to experience his new city.

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Simon can experience Copenhagen in real life: he discovers new places he likes, new sports, new friends. He can add those new points of interest in his backpack.

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Google Backpack can also be tangible. We thought of a version of the project where children have an actual backpack where they can gather physical objects from their points of interests (flyers from a museum, stickers from their sport team, badges of their favorite bands, etc.). Those physical objects would be added to the children’s virtual backpack.

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I had an amazing time working on this project for 3 days. My team and I chose to work on a subject that really interested us all and we wished we had more time to develop it. It was a perfect way for us to practice UI and UX with Material Design.

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Germain Rufflé (left), Gabriel Martzloff (right) and me (middle) during the workshop final presentation