An Interactive Narrative Playspace

Designed in the spirit of Peter Pan, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, and Where the Wild Things Are, the KidsRoom was a fully-automated, interactive narrative playspace for children. Using images, lighting, sound, and computer vision action recognition technology, a child's bedroom was transformed into an unusual world for fantasy play. Objects in the room became characters in an adventure, and the room itself actively participated in the story, guiding and reacting to the children's choices and actions. Through voice, sound, and image the KidsRoom entertained and provoked the mind of the child.

.Image of three kids in the KidsRoom

The KidsRoom used three video cameras and six fast computers. The children's positions and actions were tracked and recognized automatically by computer and used as input for the narration control system. Computer vision techniques were tightly coupled to the narrative, exploiting the context of the story in determining both what needed to be seen and how to see it. Moreover, the room affected the childrens' behavior (e.g. coaxing them to certain locations) to facilitate its own vision processes.

Image of the background-difference blobs used by the tracker

The KidsRoom was constructed by the High Level Vision group with help from the Interactive Cinema group at the MIT Media Laboratory over a period of six weeks beginning in September, 1996. The room was operational during November and December of that year. The project served many purposes. First, the KidsRoom was a rich environment for exploring the design of interactive spaces that sense their environment using automatic vision-based action recognition. Second, coupling visual perception to the narrative of a children's story permitted the development of context-sensitive computer vision techniques. Finally, the KidsRoom served as a testbed for developing infrastructure for more sophisticated interactive spaces to be designed in the future.

We believe the KidsRoom was the first multi-person, fully-automated interactive, narrative playspace ever constructed.

The pages on this web site will take you through the KidsRoom and describe how it worked.

A note about this website.

  Story - Playspace - Technology - People - Info  

Perceptual Computing Group - MIT Media Laboratory