What is a camera when a child holds it, looks into it, and presses the button? This project looks at the camera as more than just a photographic device. Most Cameras today are highly complex pieces of technology and engineering – leaving little room for exploration of what an image actually is.

A child’s experience with objects around them has a high impact on their overall development, including social skills, emotions, physical activity and mental prowess. Children of the 21st century are born into an age where technology is part of their daily experience – from simple mobile phones to playing computer games. Creating, sharing and viewing are naturally within their vocabulary – buttons and gadgets are an endless source of fascination. A simple digital camera has a multitude of functions that even adults don’t bother deciphering, why can’t a camera do one thing and do it well?

This project was approached through quick concept development and experience prototyping with children. Trying to demo ideas even by means of faking parts of it, is extremely useful to learn from – make mistakes and make them early. Working with rough working prototypes for cameras, prototypes for software, and prototypes for forms, all with the help of children who aided the design process.

The result is a platform for a camera concept – lens, screen, hard drive and an OS. Just as you add extra functions (software) to your personal computer you can add new features and functions to a camera as and when required. This enables your camera to run optimally with fewer functions. As an open platform, the device is open to developers to make applications for it and more importantly, the user knows exactly what each of the features are.

This project consists of five application concepts that run on the device and address different aspects, such as education, social interaction and negotiation and physical activity.

Extremely surprising results can be found just by starting the design process with children early in the project, even right at the start, it helps with not having preconceived notions or possible design ideas that keep you occupied and distracted through the project. As Interaction designers we seek out inspiration rather than problems, one tends to overlook simple problems for the sake of finding the more complex issues.