When bored, sad or unhappy, many tend to gravitate toward a mobile device. A quick text or snapchat to a friend has been shown to improve ones mood immediately. Such tendencies have resulted in unexpected implications, such as individuals developing addictive habits when it comes to the use of mobile devices. Receiving a text or Instagram like is thought to release dopamine and other feel-good hormones into the brain, leaving many dependent on their mobile devices for happiness.
iSlith is a toy which aims to demonstrate this idea in a way young children will understand. I am making a snake which, when slithered, dispenses a piece of candy to young children . Presumably, this device will introduce ideas of the danger and appeal of immediate gratification when it comes to the use of smartphones. Candy is used to represent this concept because it is universally enjoyed by children although they are constantly preached about its unhealthiness from older individuals. Through conversation children could think critically about the appeal and challenges of a toy which gives a reward for a simple interaction. Meanwhile, parents could explore how their children react individually to a device which simulates a situation which will exist in their near future. Being the most primal members of the human race, children's reactions could provide much information on how instant gratification can affect reward circuits in the brains of children opposed to adults. In result, a conclusion could be drawn as to whether or not cell phone addiction is a result of nature or nurture.
iSlith was created using a flex sensor, taped to one of the joints and a servo which rotates when prompted to release the candy. The candy is in a slanted tube which allows an easy release, while a programmed Arduino controls the sensor and servo. The body of the snake was crafted with a laser cutter with each peice loosely screwed together, allowing flexibility and movement throughout.
The Music Box is a project worked on in collaboration with the Karam school, located in Reyhanli, Turkey. The town is mainly occupied by Syrian refugees, who are creating a musical playground to give back to the community that welcomed them. The Music Box allows children to play and explore the creation of music. It has been shown that both play and music accelerate brain development in the language and sound processing centers of the brain. For many refugees, who are learning new languages, this could be very helpful. The music box is made up of two cylinders. The inner cylinder holds the comb, which is a series of flat steel pieces that get plucked by the pegs positioned in the outer cylinder when the kids spin it. The kids can ride on the pegs as it spins around. The design takes into account that there will be many different users with a range of ages, by including components that are fun and engaging for everyone, Such as the spinning aspect for the kids and the platform to sit for parents.