[Design Story] Being Smart Can Be Child’s Play: The Samsung Smart Play-Board

on November 25, 2015
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Smart Play-Board


The Samsung Smart Play-Board is an experimental new educational device that helps parents and teachers better understand children’s development through play.


This concept product was created by Pietro Rigamonti, a student in the Samsung Maestros Academy Master’s Degree Course at IED (Istituto Europeo di Design). The Samsung Maestros Academy is an online workshop operated by Samsung, designed to build bridges between master artisans and the younger generation, and help develop a new generation of craftspeople in Italy.


The Samsung Play-Board project was developed with a team of scientific endorsers from the University of Macerata and the Product & Solutions team of Samsung Italy. The Department of Humanities at the University of Macerata is currently conducting beta testing in various preschools.


A prototype of the Samsung Play-Board received accolades at the 2015 Milan Design Week and the 2015 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.


Unlocking the Full Potential of Children


The Samsung Play-Board is an educational play platform designed as a learning guide for both parents and teachers, underpinned by the insights gained from monitoring children’s actions and characteristics… plus it’s also fun to play with!


Insights and analyses derived from children playing with the board help teachers and parents to design a method of learning that is unique and tailored for each child. This is important because children learn to have confidence in their own abilities in their formative years. This makes it absolutely crucial for children to realize their potential at an early age, develop it, and see it nurtured by people they can trust.


Smart Play-Board


How the Samsung Smart Play-Board Works


  1. Children can interact and arrange wooden modules while they play.
  2. Vibrant colors, differently shaped modules and special “container” modules – where teachers and parents can insert any kind of picture, drawing or flat material – help to stimulate all facets of a child’s intelligence. A virtually endless number of configurations is possible.
  3. Interactions with the child are tracked, recorded and logged.
  4. This data is relayed to a pre-installed app that visualizes the child’s learning in graphics, which helps to support the educators’ analysis.
  5. The app maintains a profile of the child’s development across multiple indicators for intelligence.
  6. The app suggests special education programs – called “bridging techniques” – specifically designed to improve detected weaknesses by leveraging on tracked strengths.
  7. Parents and teachers optimize education programs based on each child’s individual profile.


What makes the app even more interesting for educators is the fact that the software and hardware are open-source; almost anyone around the world will be able to build a Play-Board from scratch and add new content.


The seemingly endless possibilities of play provide precious information on potential areas of success, and pinpoint areas of weakness. This data is displayed and quantified in a variety of settings. Also, the accumulated data can be used to understand a child’s potential growth and be applied to broader educational use.


Smart Play-Board


The Samsung Smart Play-Board in Action


Shall we try out the board for ourselves? Let’s try the color modules for starters.


First, parents or teachers suggest to the child to plug in the “educational avatar” into the board. Then, they help connect the activity board to the main board.


Now, it’s time for the child to start playing. The child chooses six nature boxes, then fills them with branches, grass or leaves. Next, connect them to the mainboard. Have the child connect the branches and leaves along the grid using the pointer. Children can have fun creating their own patterns.


When the children are done, remove the educational avatar. Data acquired from the play session is sent to a smart application for parents and teachers. It is fast and simple, but also very scientific.


Smart Play-Board


Technology & Design for a Variety of Possibilities


The Samsung Smart Play-Board is a platform that supports teachers and parents, hugely amplifying their capabilities to learn from children’s spontaneous behaviors while avoiding any “prescription” or “judgment”. The pre-installed app gathers data and organizes them into graphs, but doesn’t automate a “judgment”. This is because we believe that this can be done only by a skilled educator who has a broader view of the child and his or her situation. The app is instead intended to sync the tracked data with meaningful tips for better educational activities based on a library developed, updated and reviewed by an international community of educators.


Some people voice concern that technology will stunt the learning capacity of children, by doing all the work and making children passive and dependent. However, like the puzzle games many of us played when we were young, the capacity for problem solving is equally inherent in the Samsung Smart Play-Board, which intends to provide a platform that nurtures possibilities and potential. It all comes down to how technology is used to help us. As the Samsung Smart Play-Board shows, meaningful technology and design open up possibilities for the future of our children.


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