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C4C - Como for Children Design Competion                                              

The Chamber of Commerce of Como, in occasion of the IDC 2009 conference, has promoted a special competition calling for proposals on a "technology-enhanced" pre-school environment: the Como 4 Children (C4C) competition.

The competition's goal is to "imagine a pre-school of the (near or remote) future, where the physical space is enhanced with (existing or future) technologies and children can naturally intermix, at individual or social level, 'traditional' playing and learning activities with interaction based on modern technologies of all kinds".

The competition has two tracks:

  1. Vision of the interactive pre-school of the future:
    Proposals concerning a wide vision about an interactive pre-school.
  2. Interaction at pre-school:
    Proposals concerning the design of a specific interactive.

35 creative, visionary and compelling proposal were submitted from all over the world, by designers, interaction designers, computer scientists and architects. The "local" conference chairs together with a panel of experts from the Chamber of Commerce of Como, after a careful analysis have selected the following SIX NOMINEES.

TRACK 1: Vision of the interactive pre-school of the future

M. Carroll and A. Royalty (Stanford University, USA)
Make Believe REAL Preschool

Imagine a pre-school where each and other day children can choose a fantasy place where to spend their day, playing and socializing with their peers. Imagine oceans of fish, castles with knights being offered as settings for pre-school games. A visionary, intriguing proposal blending technology, playing and a real pre-school environment.

S. Yarosh (Georgia Institute of Technology, USA), P. Markopoulos (Eindhoven University of Technology, The Netherlands)
Show Me Stations: Connecting Preschools and Communities

Internet-enabled tables allow children, located in different places (e.g., kindergarten, hospital or home), to connect, communicate and do things together. A highly valuable project, both from a social and educational perspective.

G. Tolozzi (Architect, Italy), S. Surucu (ASP-Politecnico Milano, Turkey)

An innovative pre-school (or school) table: it can be used as a "standard" table or it opens up for reading e-books, multimedia narratives or fairy tales. Objects are used as "tangible interfaces" for kids who can't read. Teachers can remotely create configurations and monitor what's going on.A concrete, fascinating and complete proposal for "furniture of the future" in schools and pre-schools.

TRACK 2: Interaction at pre-school

A.D. Cheok (National University of Singapore and Keio Media Design, Keio University, Japan), O. N. Newton Fernando (Mixed Reality Lab, National University of Singapore, Singapore), C. L. Fernando (Keio Media Design, Keio University, Japan), M. Rukshani Narangoda (Mixed Reality Lab, National University of Singapore, Singapore)
Petimo: Safe Social Networking Robot for Children

Small robotic characters can be used by children both as interactive toys and as tools to make friends and to create a social environment. Parents can monitor their kids' acquaintances; kids have fun and learn how to socialize in a safe environment. A typical parental concern is whom their children make friendship with. This creative proposal uses technology to fix this need.

W. Dan Stiehl, A. Chang, R. Wistort, C. Breazeal (MIT Media Lab, USA)
The Robotic Preschool of the Future: New Technologies for Learning and Play

Nothing is dearer to a child than her/his stuffed animal, which in this proposal - like in a fantasy movie - takes life and becomes the child's companion. Robotic teddy bears have feelings, tell stories and can be transformed and customized by children.Robotics in pre-school expressed in a way that adds "magic to play and learning"

J.P. Hourcade, Thomas E. Hansen (University of Iowa, USA)
Multitouch Displays to Support Preschool Children's Learning in Mathematics, Reading, Writing, Social Skills and the Arts

Multi-touch displays can be used by children for achieving substantial educational benefits in various domains such as math, reading and writing, arts. An original and well structured proposal to put "trendy" technology at work for school.

In addition, a SPECIAL MENTION has been awarded:

Jay Silver, Eric Rosenbaum (MIT Media Lab (USA))
Gifts for Intertwining with Modern Nature

"Modern Nature" is [...] Urban Nature and Personal Nature". Modern Nature has different kinds of gift for kids: e.g. painting in the air, composing music with almost... anything, creating "impossible" musical instruments, pasting the sounds of birds with screams, ...Visionary, charming, and yet (apparently) "almost" feasible proposal.

The six proposals will be presented in a special session on Friday 5th, from 17 to 18. The Chamber of Commerce will then host the competition's reception on Friday evening, in the charming atmosphere of Villa del Grumello on the shore of the Como lake.

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