SLC.20.012 – Smart, Interactive Playgrounds

Route: Smart, liveable cities

Cluster question: 112 Can we use Big Data and Big Data collection to define values, generate insights, and get answers?

Children like to play; at schoolyards, sport clubs, in residential areas. Playgrounds are areas where children gather when they have free time, i.e. their break or leisure time. Besides stimulating physical activity and health, these playgrounds are crucial for children in developing their social skills, be part of a group, interact and have fun with others, and thus increase their social-emotional intelligence. Unfortunately, for some children these playgrounds are places for social exclusion or bullying instead, which can cause or increase lifelong harm such as mental health problems.

The challenge is to create playgrounds that are accessible to all children, also for those who differ from the majority, thus stimulating social participation. To achieve this, we develop high-tech interactive playgrounds that allow us to 1) measure children’s interactions objectively towards fundamental insights into social inclusion in play; 2) design and manipulate situations (in a controlled way) that encourage game play towards more inclusive participation, implicitly and explicitly steering play behavior, and social interaction. This project brings together data from various disciplines (psychology, child psychiatry, computer science, data science, interaction technology, architecture) in order to address all levels in creating smart playgrounds that enhance social inclusion, and in turn children’s quality of life.

More specifically, on these playgrounds, we use sensor data (computer science) to follow activities of children (sport pedagogy), unravel social networks (data science and psychology), but also see which part of the physical environment (architecture) by their affordances enhance or discourage social participation. Through the use of interactive play platforms (mobile and/or embedded in the environment) we offer children playful and social activities, and examine the effect on children’s quality of life, with special attention for different groups of children and those in clinical settings (child psychiatry).


architecture, children, Data Science, interactive technology, mental health, physical health, social networks

Other organisations

Curium-LUMC, Technische Universiteit Delft (TUD), Windesheim University of Applied Science


Organisation Twente University (UT)
Name Prof. dr. C. (Carolien) Rieffe