Physical interaction nutrition game

  • at: Fazer Visitor Center, Vantaa, Finland
  • by: Tuomo Tammenpää & Daniel Blackburn
  • for: Ateljé Sotamaa / Fazer
  • in: 2016 -> (ongoing)

Foodbuddy is a playful and educational game for encouraging the players in picking up healthy food on the lunch plate. Fazer Visitor Center visitor groups are guided around a big table full of various food items as small wooden blocks. The blocks are in six shades and categories: proteins, fibres, fats, veggies, drinks and miscellaneous snacks and treats. The task of the player is to pick up a plate, collect a meal and bring the plate to the nearby Foodbuddy robot. When placing the plate on the robot’s tray and pushing a button, the robot evaluates the healthiness of the meal, based on the current Nordic nutrition standards and gives out stars from zero to five, followed by a compact breakdown of fulfilled categories. After this, the player can try to improve the score or get playful with it.

The design process started with the design brief from Tuuli and Kivi Sotamaa from Ateljé Sotamaa. Few different play interfaces were explored. The “Food plate” as an interface suggested a pie-chart style of physicalisation of a familiar way of describing ratios, however, this was impractical for varying ratios of the food categories. Simplifying food items to understandable representations required also some iterations, when the audience is multi-lingual and multi-cultural and of many ages. Marking the food item as an as-generic-as-possible pictogram turned out to be the best solution in the end. Instead of colour-coding the block/food categories, we went for more subtle choices with different wood types, from dark oaks to pale birches.

Foodbuddy is a high-usage tangible-interaction game, which benefits from low-maintenance and high durability from the technological solution and low learning-curve user experience, “just try it and you’ll get it”. Physical blocks with passive RFID tags are ideal for this task. Wooden blocks are a natural tangible interface for touch, familiar for all ages, and passive RFID tags embedded in them, makes them very long-lasting and inexpensive, even in volumes.

The content expertise was provided by Fazer nutrition expert Leila Fogelhom, Foodbuddy furniture and playing blocks were designed with Ateljé Sotamaa.