MapSense (see also our CHI 2016 article) was designed with teachers and caretakers. Our aim was to allow for very low tech tangible interactions: using conductive PLA and sticky aluminium, any object could serve as a touch input for our existing prototype (a touchscreen with a tactile map overlay).

Examples of tangibles used with MapSense

For example, the child depicted in the video below happens to live with audio and visual impairments. He has a kinesthetic learning styles (i.e. he learns through movements). This is something Mapsense allows for.

The use of edible and smelly elements quickly became an evidence. Teachers already used them in the classroom, to accommodate children learning styles (most of the children we work with have multiple and different impairments), and to associate symbolic representations with lived experience. Furthermore, multiple sensory modalities foster elaborative encoding and better memorization. The fact that it could easily be used directly on the map only facilitated existing pedagogical and teaching practices. To allow for long term use, we designed a toolkit of conductive tangible supports, which can be used with toys or small objects, or filled with scented oils or food.


We closely worked with caretakers to define the map content and on the design of tangibles, producing design guidelines for 3D modelling. We also gathered feedbacks from the children for upcoming projects.