stimulate non-fit children to move

2013, 2015* revised


how to engage children in physical activity?

As part of an internship, SKY worldwide export asked me to create a hero product for their upcoming productline A-Champs. A-champs' vision is to target the increasing amount of overweight children and engage them in physical activity.

Being situated in Shanghai, this project became quite a cultural journey. Designing and developing a concept so close to the factories allowed me to learn incredibly much about the impact of manufacturing constraints. Ever since I integrate engineering throughout my creative processes. I don't let the engineering limit my creativity, I'm using it to push for my dreams.

After my internship the ROXs concept was further developed by A-champs (Sky Worldwide export ltd.) and will make its way to markets very soon.

  • 16 weeks
  • Sky worldwide export ltd.
  • Michiel Kersteman


The Case

I started the project with a case study and analysis on overweight children. The academic research will acts as scientific reference to gain momentum and trust from parents at product launch. Being Dutch I chose the Netherlands as a representative country for West Europe.

“Children” is a very broad and diverse group, and I took it as my role to specify an interesting target group for A-champs.

My hypothesis is that the younger part is more playful and physically active, while children from above 10 will focus more and more on digital consumption: videogames, television, smartphones and social media.

With the evidence that children with overweight have a higher chance of getting fat or obese when they grow up I believe A-champs should focus at promoting an active lifestyle at the age below 10. By being ahead of the curve it prevents a possible rise of inactive & overweight children.

"the ones who need are the ones who don’t like it"
- matthew effect -

The design drivers came to existence by studying theories on motivation and by interviewing an expert in the field of children's physical activity. For example, when children play in a group they shouldn't become dependent on each other’s motor skills or waste time on discussing. Asking young children to throw a ball between each other won't work as they won't be able to catch it, resulting in a boring game.



To come up with genuine playful concepts I use real life act-outs with colleagues to see whether something is fun. Playing is ideating. Only lateron I assess whether generated concepts fit the design drivers and target group.

Real-life act-outs and the 'fit' with the design drivers supported the concept selection. From here a prototype should indicate whether I was on the right track.

I wanted to give ROXs this sturdy robust feel on the ground while also making it easy to grab. By looking at objects in the world I was able to combine these seemingly contrasting qualities with a bean shape: a wide base with open spaces that afford

I believe every promising idea should be tested with a working prototype. ROXs came to life by building low-fidelity Arduino coded prototypes.

Because I was situated in a small office in Shanghai I didn’t have access to proper prototyping tools (vacuum molding, belt saw etc). So instead I used tupperware food boxes, LEDs and an Arduino to prototype concepts with. ROXs is fully working, using an Arduino and a sound sampler in Processing.


final concept

Between 5-10 y/o the emphasis should lie on general physical activity (gross moter skills) rather than prescriptive physical exercises. This means running around, jumping, squating and coordination.

One of the byproducts of putting smartphones and gameconsoles in an arm reach of children is their sedentary lifestyle. ROXS is a combination of the digital and analogue, making kids move more in a highly enriched gameplay.

An expert in the field of physical activity with children,was conducted. When playing in a group children they become dependent on each other’s motor skills or waste time on discussing. With ROXs children are not dependant on each other’s motor skills and keeps it interesting for a longer timespan.

With ROXs children will meet the physical activy norm with ease: To do intense physical exercise at least 3 times a week.


Towards mass production

I learned how to deal with manufacturing constrictions throughout the conceptualisation phase. Part of my task was to discuss feasibility and costs of ROXs with Chinese factories

I simulated several scenarios to see whether ROXs can withstand heavy play. I not only looked at the casing, but I also checked whether the forces on the button mechanism were in tune.


Making things real

I get this magical sensation when a prototype is ready to try out for the first time. After all the efforts coding and get the timing right, my concept suddenly gets real and I'm able to run around between the ROXs. With no speaker inside the prototype I simulated the sound coming from ROXs by using the left and right channel of a stereo speaker set-up.

I was situated in Shanghai during this project and obviously wasn’t near any western children’s playground. I decided to run a usertest of ROXs with an International school based in the outskirts of Shanghai. The school’s board was happy to supply me with the precious time of children’s - who doesn’t want to get away from school for 1 hour to play right?

Although the usertest was mostly aimed at the testing the game mechanics of ROXs I was able to see quite distinctive ‘playing methods’ amongst the select group of children. The boys were very competitive in beating each other’s score, while the girls wanted to play the game together.

During group play the children seemed to be more engaged with ROXs. When only one child was playing the other children were waiting for their turn, got 'bored', and began to help by shouting which ROX their friend has to tap! It shows how important it is with bigger groups (+4) to engage every child in the game.