When toys come to life: Considering the internet of toys from an animistic design perspective

Bieke Zaman, Maarten Van Mechelen, Lizzy Bleumers

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeConference contributionScientificpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Children's play objects are increasingly shaped by technological innovations that can transform them into hybrid, internet-connected toys, a phenomenon referred to as the Internet of Toys. Previous research has presented user research on connected toys, but little is known how to approach them from a design perspective. This paper investigates whether and how an animistic design perspective can foster a fruitful exploration of the design potentialities of connected toys. It addresses this question by analysing three design concepts of connected toys that were developed in the course of an R&D project. These included a high-tech bracelet with digital passport, a card game with a customizable 3D-printed figurine, and a robot as a board game play mate. The results show how the design qualities of connected toys can be categorized on a spectrum ranging from a certainty-driven, problem-solving logic to an uncertainty-driven, animistic design perspective. The contribution of this study is a better understanding of how connected toys emerge in a broader ecology of children, toys, and data that all act upon each other. By embracing the uncertainty in this complex and fluid network of subjects and objects, the animistic design perspective allows to explore a broad set of design opportunities relevant in the realm of the Internet of Toys.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIDC'18
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the 17th ACM Conference on Interaction Design and Children
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Number of pages11
ISBN (Print)978-1-4503-5152-2
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventIDC 2018: The 17th ACM Conference on Interaction Design and Children - Trondheim, Norway
Duration: 19 Jun 201822 Jun 2018


ConferenceIDC 2018
Abbreviated titleIDC'18


  • Animistic design
  • Connected play
  • Connected toys
  • Internet of toys
  • Strong concept
  • Uncertainty


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