Hack Day Gamestorming with Smart Toys

I admit it. I am fascinated by technical gadgets. I was an early adopter of the iPhone which I had imported to Australia before it was even available to Australians. I’ve been through my fair share of wearables and I love my Apple watch. Our lights at home are controlled by our mobiles and my Withings scale tracks my pulse rate velocity, heart rate and of course my weight.

Unashamedly, I’ve also purchased quite a few tech gadgets for my children’s birthdays, which were really an excuse for me to play as well.  However, my goal of instilling my technical passions into my children hasn’t been entirely successful. I find that these toys only hold their interest for about a week and then they start gathering dust on the shelf. The most recent smart toy being the Ozobot Bit.

image by Ozobot

image by Ozobot

For those of you who don’t know; the Ozobot is a tiny robot that can be programmed to run along racing lines or mazes that you draw on a sheet of paper. It can be programmed using OzoCode and also interacts with mobile devices. It’s an amazing, little piece of technology that grows more interesting the more you explore its features. Well at least for me, not the kids.

So, when DiUS announced our upcoming Hack Day theme was to be…. ‘The next frontier: boldly go where you haven’t been before’, my mind started thinking about how we might take these smart toys, redefine their purpose, and extend their lifespan of interest.

DiUS Hack Day goes boldly where no one has gone before!

hackney logo

The Hack Day theme was wonderfully wide and vague, which means the sky’s the limit when it comes to what you could create within the timeframe of a single day! The theme allowed everyone to explore a new technology or approach they may have heard, read or wondered about. Everyone was free to take any direction they chose, as long as they shared their experiments and learnings with everyone at the end of the day. With this in mind, I prepared a simple pitch to try to entice people to join my team.

The goal was simple; let’s explore the potential of the Ozobot and see what we can do with it in the business world. Why should kids have all the fun! Think game-storming, think co-creation and collaborative team building exercises.

A week prior to the Hack Day, each office in Sydney and Melbourne gathered together for a pitch session. This provided everyone with the opportunity to pitch their ideas in preparation for the big day.

hackday ideas

Hack Day arrived and our awesome hack day T-shirts were distributed (disclaimer, awesomely designed by me). Caffeine and breakfast snacks were consumed and each team got busy working on their ideas. We had less than 6 hours to explore our ideas and prepare for the showcase at 3pm!

The DiUS hackers

The DiUS hackers

So, what did the Ozobot team get up to on hack day?

My team began the day by conducting some research around the capabilities of Ozobot and also ran a quick brainstorming session around our challenge…

“How might we use Ozobot in the business environment?”

Our research revealed that Ozobot has a lot of capabilities and that even though the toy is targeted at children, there is a lot of potential for adults to use it as well.

We discovered that there are a variety of apps available to make the Ozobot dance on iPad interfaces, play web games, race against other Ozobots, maneuver around printable games and be programmed using a range of Ozocodes on the computer or on paper.

Ozocodes can be programed into the Ozobot through a web interface, or can also be simply drawn on paper with coloured markers by following the reference chart. As the Ozobot follows the hand-drawn trail and detects different sequences of coloured blocks, it changes behaviour and performs different actions such as; boost faster, spin around, go backwards, go forwards, change colours and more.

The Ozobot navigating through one of the obstacle courses that we designed

The Ozobot navigating through one of the obstacle courses that we designed

So with these learnings we decided to develop an activity that we could use to encourage team collaboration in a workshop setting. A large part of what we do at DiUS is facilitating workshops for our customers during discovery phases and to encourage co-creation within teams.

We’re always looking at new methods to make these workshops more interesting and innovative and often use many gamestorming activities.  So we thought it would be great to develop a ‘gamestorming-like’ activity that we could add to our workshop tool box.

The obstacle course challenge that we developed, will be a great way to encourage our clients to work more effectively in teams. The activity itself promotes collaboration, teamwork, fast-paced thinking, problem-solving as a group, creativity, and most importantly it’s fun!

The team working on the second iteration of the obstacle course

The team working on the second iteration of the obstacle course

 

Throughout the day we built several iterations; changing the rules, reducing the scope and simplifying the process overall to make it achievable within a short time frame and simple for people to pick up within minutes, so that it can be easily used in workshops.

Overall the day was a great success and heaps of fun! We learnt a lot about the tiny, clever robot and came up with a smart solution that will make our workshops with clients more fun and innovative.

The final activity that we came up with is described below, so that you can also incorporate it into workshops within your organisation. If you have any feedback on how you use Ozobots or would like to incorporate them into your next workshop, get in touchwith us.

 Ozobot wearing the costume that we made for him

 Ozobot wearing the costume that we made for him

 

Gamestorming with Ozobot

The activity below is designed for 2 teams containing 4-6 people in each team.

Time: 
30 minutes

What you need: 
One Ozobot kit for each team containing the following:

  • 1 Ozobot
  • A large sheet of paper (about A2 or A1 in size)
  • A set of thick markers in black, red, blue and green.
  • Printout of the OzoCodes reference chart pdf
  • Scissors
  • Glue stick or sticky tape
  • Card board (to dress up your ozobots)

How to play:

  1. Divide the group into two teams and distribute the kits.
  2. Instruct the teams to build an obstacle course for their Ozobots using 6 OzoCodes featured on the reference chart. The teams use the markers to draw the codes on the large sheet of paper.  (It’s a good idea to cut out the reference codes and stick them on the obstacle course)
  3. Read the rules
  4. Set the timer for 20 minutes.
  5. Once the 20 minutes are up. Get each team to showcase their Ozobot through the obstacle course. Set the timer on your mobile so that you can monitor how long each one takes. You could potentially race each other, however this doesn’t give each team the chance to properly see the other team’s obstacle course.

Optional:

  • Get the team to create a decorative costume for their ozobot using cardboard, markers and sticky tape.
  • Give an additional prize to the Ozobot with the most creative costume.

The rules:

  1. Each team has 20 minutes to create and test their obstacle course.
  2. Your obstacle course must contain a minimum of 8 Ozocodes.
  3. The Ozobot must complete the entire course without help.
  4. The Ozobot which completes the obstacle course the fastest wins!

Why this is great:

This activity encourages teamwork, team building and collaboration using a smart robot as well as manual drawing skills.

Want to do this with a large group?

If you have a larger group you could have up to 4-6 teams as long as they all have a kit which contains an ozobot. You could run 2 teams against each other and have the finals with the final 2 winning teams. It just means more competition!