module specification

CU5005 - Digital Toy Design (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Digital Toy Design
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Computing and Digital Media
Total study hours 300
81 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
219 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 30%   Presentation of concept
Coursework 30%   Supporting materials
Coursework 40%   Artefact
Attendance Requirement 0%   Attendance at semesterly Learning Manager Meeting
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year North Monday Morning

Module summary

Students work in teams to to fulfil a toy-design exercise, and provide a prototype solution.

Module aims

Students will be working in teams to research and develop a prototype product within the emerging area of Digital Toy Design.

Part of the module explores the area from a perspective of market research and broad concepts/niches for Digital Toys.   Students will be asked to make a small presentation about an existing area of the field as a group.

The major part of the module asks that students undertake a group design and build exercise using a variety of convergent techniques (eg. embedded technology, 3-D modelling, 2-D animation, multimedia, scripting) to produce a physical prototype demonstrating the main features of their idea.


Toys vs Games
The emerging area of Digital Toys
Established products within the existing markets
Themes within toys - caring, making, fighting, exploring
Introduction to Electronics
Embedded technology
Motors and servos, RFID, sensors and actuators
Toy hacking
Prototype development using Arduino and Processing, OpenFrameworks, Flash etc.
Designing your own toy
Presenting your prototype


Learning and teaching

A problem based learning approach will be used in the module delivery.

The theoretical material will be covered in lectures and smaller seminars and exemplified in laboratory based sessions .  Time will be devoted to the discussion and evaluation of problem solutions.   The student will be expected to spend an equivalent time in private study and directed reading.  In addition to this, three substantial courseworks will be set .

Learning outcomes

LO1 Understand the emerging area of Toy Design
LO2 Use prototyping hardware and software tools to produce a demo of a toy or product that utilises embedded technology
LO3 Increase creativity through concept design and development
LO4 Understand how to present a solution effectively


Assessment strategy

Students undertake some research into an aspect of toy design that underpins their own creative idea.  [LO1]  They work in teams to produce a “smart” toy, using prototyping tools. [LO3] [LO2]  The product is tested, demonstrated and enhanced, ready to be shown in public.  [LO4]

Learning Manager Meetings: in order to pass this module, students must attend at least two meetings with their Learning Manager (one in Autumn and one in Spring) in order to reflect upon, discuss and plan their approach to learning and organisation of their study.


Banzi, Massimo  (2008) Getting Started With Arduino  :  O'Reilly Media / Make
Igoe, Tom  (2007) Making Things Talk  :  O'Reilly Media / Make 

(Other Reading)
Alborzi, H., Druin, A., Montemayor, J., Platner, M., Porteous, J., Sherman, L., Boltman, A., Tax´En, G., Best, J., Hammer, J., Kruskal, A., Lal, A., Plaisant-Schwenn, T., Sumida, L., Wagner, R., and Hendler, J. (2000) Designing StoryRooms: Interactive storytelling spaces for children. In Proceedings of Designing Interactive Systems (DIS-2000), ACM Press, 95–104.

Luckin, R, Connolly, D, Plowman, L and Airey, S (2003). Children’s interactions with interactive toy technology. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 19, 165-176

McNerney T. (2004). From turtles to Tangible Programming Bricks: explorations in physical language design. In Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, Volume 8, Issue 5 (September 2004), Pages: 326 – 337.

Newton-Dunn H., Nakano H., Gibson J. (2003). Block Jam: A Tangible Interface for Interactive Music. Proceeding of the 2003 Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME-03), Montreal, Canada

O’Malley, C. Fraser, D. (2005) “Literature Review in Learning with Tangible Technologies.” Nesta Futurelab series. Report 12, 2005.

Resnick, M. “Behavior Construction Kits.” In Communications of the ACM, July 1993, pp. 64-71. July 1993, pp. 64-71. ACM

Resnick M. et al. (1998) Digital manipulatives: New toys to think with. Proceeding of CHI 1998.
Zuckerman O., Arida, S., and Resnick M. (2005). Extending Tangible Interfaces for Education: Digital Montessori-inspired Manipulatives. Proceedings of CHI 2005.