Developed in Denmark and Sweden, the Son-X Octavia uses sensors to reward swing users for completing challenges.
Technology has already benefitted playground users in the form of the KaBOOM! Playspace Finder, which allows parents to rate the quality of children’s areas online. Now the Son-X Octavia device aims to bring a different kind of adventure to the playground – by turning swings into more interactive, challenge-based games. Developed as a collaboration between Denmark-based startup playITsound and Swedish playground manufacturer HAGS Aneby AB, the device is a semi-spherical sensor and speaker kit, which produces noises depending on the swinging pattern of the user. Based on the idea that sound boosts children’s imaginations, the device can be attached to the rope of any swing in order to gamify it, with users rewarded by applause sound effects for completing a challenge. Using concepts children find familiar from video games, the device encourages kids to get outside and exercise, and research from the startup indicates that it increases the amount of time children spend on the swing. In one game, an applause sound gets louder the higher the child swings, for example. The Son-X Octavia runs off batteries that are powered by solar panels installed on the device, which provide four hours of continuous gameplay. playITsound explains that the batteries will last for two years before needing replacement, while the solar panels are made of glass to make it easier to remove graffiti. HAGS Aneby Ab is set to distribute the set in Europe and Asia, but playITsound is currently looking for a vendor in the US. The video below shows the device in action: The Son-X Octavia is designed to work with any existing swing set, either in public playgrounds or in the home and it is easy to see how this concept could be broadened to gamify other play apparatus. Local authorities – could you improve engagement with public spaces using similar technology?