1st Workshop on Smart Toys, Smart Tangibles, Robots and other Smart Things for Children

Embedding electronics and enabling digital responses to everyday objects is already a widespread reality. The term smart toys, tangibles and robots cover a range of play products that can present different levels of network, processing and reasoning capabilities. Such interfaces have also become capable of collecting and processing data in real-time. While quality aspects and intelligent features are more relevant than ever, many relying on data-driven methods and artificial intelligence (AI), this also raises important privacy issues and concerns. Additionally, the design of meaningful play and learning experiences that go beyond data collection remains a challenging task. This workshop explores challenges and related opportunities to feed interaction design of smart toys, tangibles, robots and other smart things for children that may shape the lines for future work in the field.

Aims and scope

This workshop aims to openly discuss challenges and related opportunities to feed interaction design of smart toys, tangibles, robots and other smart things for children that may shape the lines for future work in the field. Following themes will be addressed:

1) Design methods and methodologies: Which important principles must be considered to design such smart technology settings for the future?

2) AI-powered devices and data-driven interactions: How shall data privacy and ethics issues be handled? Which special considerations about the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) must be taken with children? How to ensure an adult/tutor is involved in the acceptance of conditions and they are clearly explained to children? Should we need a specific manifesto for toy designers regarding user data processing besides existing regulations?

3) Shaping and scoping smart settings with smart toys, tangibles, robots and other devices: Which contexts are worth exploring and other target users considerations? What different future technological settings can be interesting to explore? Which scenarios can we (participants) anticipate or could be interesting to explore in the future? In which use-cases can the smart tangibles be used to promote children’s learning? In which scenarios can smart tangibles be useful for different user groups such as children having attention problems, children having visio-motor coordination issues, learning difficulties, etc.?

Expected outcomes from this workshop are to have a rich and shared overview on the theme, relying on the participants’ diverse perspectives, and to establish a network of both researchers and practitioners to initiate collaborative initiatives to start up multiple research projects and strands based on the ideas and cluster work to be carried out during the workshop (see the workshop plan).

How to participate

We invite researchers, non-academics and practitioners that work/are interested in the topics targeted by the workshop to join us at IDC 2020 to critically reflect on these aspects.

We welcome three different types of contributions:

  1. Position papers in relation to any aspect relevant to the workshop where attendants are requested to submit an extended abstract (2-4 pages) following the ACM Sigchi Extended abstract format;

  2. Live-demo or video, accompanied by a short description and potential benefits as an input to the workshop;

  3. A short expression of interest to participate by students, non-academics and practitioners, describing their background and motivation of what they would like to do/achieve in relation to the topics of the workshop.

The contributions will be subject to a juried process to assess their relevance for the workshop, ensuring diversity as well. At least one author of each accepted position paper must attend the workshop and all participants must register for both the workshop and the main conference. Accepted contributions will be distributed internally among the participants to facilitate workshop preparation and networking, on the premise of not redistributing these materials.

Submissions to grant participation must be submitted to the organizers via email to alejandro.catala [at] usc.es


  • Submission of contributions: 6 April 13 April

  • Notification of acceptance: 20 April

  • Workshop: 21 June


  • Alejandro Catala, Research Centre in Intelligent Technologies (CiTIUS), Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, Spain

  • Cristina Sylla, Research Center on Child Studies CIEC/ITI/LARSyS, University of Minho, Portugal

  • Arzu Guneysu Ozgur, CHILI Lab, EPFL, Switzerland

  • Pirita Ihamäki, Prizztech Ltd., Finland

  • Katriina Heljakka, University of Turku, Finland

Publication opportunities

To be announced soon!