A real-time distributed toolkit to ease children's exploration of IoT

Torben Wallbaum, Swamy Ananthanarayan, Andrii Matviienko, Susanne Boll

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3 Citations (Scopus)


Children are increasingly exposed to everyday objects with embedded computing and wireless capabilities. However, understanding how these devices collect data, communicate information to other devices, and interpret program instructions is not typically taught to children. Moreover, programming these devices still requires considerable knowledge particularly for primary school children. In this paper, we showcase a distributed toolkit of various sensors and output modules, each with wireless capability, that can independently or in concert work together. This is enabled by a programming environment with a real-time interpreter that can connect and update the state of the modules on-the-fly. We tested the system with 32 primary school children in an after-school study and found that the majority of children knew how to couple sensors to different output modalities to solve various devised scenarios. For some children, the toolkit was also used to build IoT games or fulfill personal tasks.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 11th Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction, Tallinn, Estonia, 25-29 October, 2020
Subtitle of host publicationShaping Experiences, Shaping Society
EditorsMarta Larusdottir, Jan Stage, Carmelo Ardito, Ilkka Johannes Kosunen, Izak van Zyl
Place of PublicationNew York NY USA
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9781450375795
ISBN (Print)9781450375795
Publication statusPublished - 2020
EventNordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction 2020: Shaping Experiences, Shaping Society - Virtual, Online, Estonia
Duration: 25 Oct 202029 Oct 2020
Conference number: 11th
https://dl.acm.org/doi/proceedings/10.1145/3419249 (Proceedings)
https://nordichi2020.org/#/ (Website)


ConferenceNordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction 2020
Abbreviated titleNordiCHI 2020
CityVirtual, Online
Internet address


  • computational toolkit
  • children
  • Internet of things
  • education.

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