Design of intelligent toys that detect development problems

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Design of intelligent toys that detect development problems

The objective of every one of the toys is to assess the movement of children of different ages.

Toys with sensors designed to help in the early detection of abnormalities in childhood development, are being tested in the framework of a project in which assist the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM), the Universidad de Alcalá (UAH), and the Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM), and involving 60 children aged between 2 and 6 years from three nursery schools.

Motor development disorders related to coordination, the fine motor skills and design, or precision in the grip, can be an early sign of other problems of development of cognitive or sensory type

It’s a rattle, a tower of cubes, a ball, and the game prongs. In the case of the Tower of cubes – that is the most tested so far, and which is up and running the application for patent – researchers have installed sensors in the cubes to measure the time in motion, speed and the maximum acceleration that reaches, as well as the upheavals produced by manipulating cubes to build the tower.

To analyze all this data and observe the game – that is recorded on video – experts can detect if there are possibilities for children to suffer any problem or difficulty with movement. As explained Bernardo Alarcos, spokesperson for the project in the UAH, the kinds of toys that have been included in the research commonly used in standardized scales of psycho-pedagogical consultations to assess child development, but is also common to find them in the environments of the game, from school, a park, or the home.

The objective of every one of the toys is to assess the movement of children of different ages; Thus, while cube Tower allows to observe the mobility of children between 2 and 3 years, rattle – that has sensors that measure pressure and acceleration – is indicated for infants 0-1 year, pins set – which consists of introducing sticks in a hole – is intended to children aged 4 to 5 years , and the ball is ideal for those with between 5 and 6 years of age.

Motor difficulties may be an indicator of the presence of other diseases associated with gaps in development; Thus, motor development disorders related to coordination, the fine motor skills and design, or precision in the grip, for example, can be an early sign of other problems of development of sensory or cognitive type, as they have warned the teachers Susana Núñez, expert in physiotherapy of the UAH, and Cristina Serrano, of special education in the affiliated Centre Cardinal Cisneros. And they add that early diagnosis and intervention will improve the prognosis of the disorder suffered by the child.

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