Sniff is first and foremost a high-quality physical toy dog, that can withstand the rough and tumble of everyday play and activities. But Sniff’s interactive elements add an extra dimension of experience and engagement. Through the use of Radio Frequency IDentification technology Sniff can identify objects that he comes close to, which trigger behaviours that are expressed through sound and vibration. In the Sniff video above you can see three of Sniff’s ‘activities’ in action, in real settings.
Sniff is designed as a companion in daily situations as well as in play and games, alone or together with other children, and including one or more Sniffs. Special attention has been devoted to the design of interaction between sound and vibration. Auditory feedback is important for the sociality of the toy, and makes it possible for a larger number of people to participate in play. Haptic feedback deepens the experience, support hands-on operation and creates a special bond between user and toy.
Sniff is a robust and fully working prototype that has been through several iterations it its physical design, interaction design and technology. This has happened as part of a long evaluation process where it has been tested with many kids and adults.
Book, website and paper
The Sniff website goes further into some of the design and conceptual issues, as well as background material and references.
Sara Johansson presented some of the background and research behind Sniff at The Interaction design and children conference in June 2009. Here is the paper that goes deeper into the design issues particularly issues of abstraction in character and interaction design.
Finally there is also a lovely book available to buy. The book is presented as a ‘day in the life of Sniff’ and details many of the interactive, playful concepts that have been designed.