Lands of fog: Participatory Design with Autistic Children

“Lands of Fog” is an open-ended Full-Body Interaction Environment designed for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to play with a typically developed peer. The experience has the goal of promoting exploration and of scaffolding social and collaborative behaviors between users. The project was founded by RecerCaixa grant.


My role

During my Phd  I have been collaborating in the design of  the experience. Specifically, my role focused on defining, carrying out and analyzing participatory design activities with children with Autism Spectrum Condition

The project

Goal: Develop a Full-Body Interaction experience for children with Autistic Spectrum Condition aimed toward promoting social initiation, understood as the promotion of behaviors such as approaching and looking for others, trying to start social communication and producing any verbal or gestural behavior for communicative goals.

Target users: 10-12 years old children with Autistic Spectrum Condition

The concept:  

  • The game as a mediator of social interaction
  • Support collaboration without enforcing it


  • Involve autistic children in the design of an interactive experience
  • Define methods to facilitate children expressing their own interests and understandings around the experience
  • Define analytical approaches capable of taking into account meanings and aspects that cannot be expressed by words

Children as partners in the design ideation stage


In the initial stage of development, we conducted a PD workshop, based on the “children-as-informants” model with four children with ASD (mean age: 11). During the workshop, children we employed a Wizard-of-Oz prototype of the experience and carried out a set of specific activities.

  • The explorer activity: children in pairs were invited to interact with the prototype and take pictures of anything that captured their interests
  • The detective activity: children who were not playing were invited to watch their playing peers and try to guess what are they doing
  • The designers activity: children were asked to make drawing to depict how they would like to improve the environment

The initial prototype

The system was based on a 6-meter diameter floor projected virtual environment, which is covered by virtual fog. Users explore and interact with the environment using a butterfly net that allows them to open peepholes in the fog and discover what is hidden underneath.  


A multimodal approach to analyse children’s contributions

To analyze these activities, we employed multimodal analysis and focused on:

  1. children’s exploration of the space (their position, paths, pauses and relative speed),
  2. their gaze and the pictures they took during the interaction with the system
  3. their verbal interactions
  4. their drawings and related explanations

Data were annotated on map for each child and analyzed according to a grounded approach

figure2 figure3


  • Children were particularly interested in detailed and liminal areas and in exploring the fog appearance
  • They tended to interpret the underlying environment as a geographical map
  • The act of moving around with the net was associated with the task of hunting or collecting something according to a strictly functional perspective (e.g. “You have to collect animals to make points”)
  • Strong influence of videogames culture

Informing design

The performed analysis allowed us to identify some relevant aspects to be addressed in future design iterations:

  • the use of the virtual fog showed to be an effective design choice to promote exploration. Future design iterations can eventually address the refinements of the fog’s behavior to enrich the possibilities for sensorimotor exploration
  • a realistic and videogame-like graphical style may be adequate to capture children’s attention and foster exploratory behaviors.
  • children’s tendency to interpret the environment as a large space (i.e. a continent) pointed out some possible issues related to defining an adequate scale of the experience
  • children’s lack of interest toward their peers requires a strong effort to promote more collaborative ways of interacting during the experience.  To tackle this latter issue, possible design solutions can use videogames mechanics as motivators of social interaction.


Lessons Learned

  • Multimodal analysis showed to be an effective approach to analyze users contributions across multiple sources and inform design
  • Relevance of analyzing users’ understandings across multiple modalities


Related publications

Malinverni, L., Mora-Guiard, J., & Pares, N. (2016). Towards methods for evaluating and communicating participatory design: A multimodal approach.International Journal of Human-Computer Studies.

Ecosystem: design and evaluating a Full-Body Interaction Learning Environment

EcoSystem is a Full-Body Interaction Learning Environment for children aimed at supporting learning about environmental relationships through embodied interaction

My role

I led the design of the EcoSystem project as part of my PhD in the Full-Body Interaction Lab of University Pompeu Fabra. In this project I’ve been in charge of conducting interviews with experts, designing and carry out Participatory Design workshops with children, defining design requirements, analyzing and interpreting quantitative and qualitative data. The project has been realized in collaboration with Marie Monique Schaper.

The challenges

EcoSystem is a Full-Body Interaction Learning Environment for children aimed at supporting learning about environmental relationships through embodied interaction. The main challenges of the projects were related to:

  • Defining appropriate learning goals
  • Designing an environment based on Full-Body Interaction  that can serve as an effective complement to traditional educational methods
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of the learning environment

The design process


The design process was structured in three stages:

  1.     Stage 1: Children as co-designers

This first stage of the study had the goal of defining the educational needs through the use of Participatory Design methods.  

  1. Stage 2: Children as informants

The second stage of the study had the goal of analyzing children’s interaction and interpretation of the first prototype.

  1. Stage 3: Children as testers

The third stage of the study aimed at evaluating the effectiveness of the designed FUBILE in supporting learning and comparing its use with traditional instructional methods.  

Stage 1: Children as co-designers

Midterm_Presentation.indd final_presentation_marie_donnerstag-5

Goal: The goal of the first stage was to define specific learning goals according to experts’ requirements and children’s understandings, previous knowledge and representations of concepts related to environmental education.


  • Open-ended interviews with experts
  • Participatory Design (PD) workshop with children, using methods based on the Pictonary Activity and on Game Design activities.
  • Instruments: video-analysis


  • Understanding of children’s previous knowledge
  • Definition of bridging concepts (concepts that can bridge the gap between what children already know and novel knowledge)
  • Identification of misconceptions and knowledge gaps


  • Definition of learning goals related to the system dynamics of the relation between the amount of pollution and the resources available to reduce or augment it.
  • Design of an initial prototype
First prototype: The EcoSystem Project


Einfaches RGB

Children were presented with a large floor projection of the interactive environment. They have to teduce the amount of air-pollution in the environment.  To do that they can assume different roles:

  1.     Wind power: producing wind energy to replace the energy produced by a steam power station and hence reduce air-pollution,
  2.     Plants: growing plants and vegetables to facilitate CO2 absorption and contribute to the consumption of local foods,
  3.     Recycling: recycling and producing compost to increase the growth of plants and reduce waste that would otherwise end up incinerated and hence increasing combustion.

Air-pollution was visualized as a cloud covering the game ground. Thus, as pollution increased, the amount of space available for playing decreased. In order to make the cloud decrease children needed to understand the relation between the elements present in the game and properly collaborate with other players.

Stage 2: Children as informants




  • Analyze how children interact with the prototype and understand it
  • Define design refinements


  • Video analysis of children’s interactions while playing  with a Wizard of Oz prototype of the system
  • Retrospective analysis of children’s understanding of the system
  • Instruments: video-analysis, open-ended questionnaire, conceptual map, semi-structured group discussion and a short essay.


  • Identification of misconceptions provoked by the design of the system
  • Identification of core meanings that guided children understandings
  • Identification of intuitive actions for embodied interaction  


  • Definition of design refinements: changes in the spatial layout, change in visualization of interactive elements, definition of gestures for interactions

Stage 3: Children as testers

Goals: evaluating whether the designed FUBILE supports learning and testing whether it could be effective to complement Traditional Instructional Methods (TIM).

Methods: Between-subject experimental design:

1) Experimental condition: combined use of the system and traditional text-based learning materials

2) Control condition: use of text-based learning materials alone

Instruments: pre and post-test conceptual maps


  • Significant learning gains for both conditions between pre and posttest for both conditions
  • Significant different between the two conditions in posttests results: children in the experimental condition reported significantly greater scores than children assigned to the control condition


Lessons Learned

  • Importance of carefully structure iterative design processes
  • Importance of methods to understand children previos knowledge, representations and core meanings
  • Relevance of experiential learning


Related publications

Malinverni, L., Schaper, M.-M.,  and Pares, N. (2016). An evaluation-driven design approach to develop learning environments based on full-body interaction. Educational Technology Research and Development. DOI=http://dx.doi:10.1007/s11423-016-9468-z

Schaper, M.-M., Malinverni, L. and Pares, N. (2015). Sketching through the body: child-generated gestures in Full-Body Interaction Design. In Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Interaction Design and Children (IDC ’15). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 255-258. DOI=

Schaper, M.-M., Malinverni, L. and Pares, N.  (2014). Participatory design methods to define educational goals for full-body interaction. In Proceedings of the 11th Conference on Advances in Computer Entertainment Technology (ACE ’14). ACM, New York, NY, USA, Article 50. DOI=




Jocs critics – Co-designing critical games with teens

Jocs critics is an art and education project related to co-designing critical games with teenagers. The  project arises as a reflection on the values embedded in game design and as a space for discussing concerns related to the worries about the socio-economical situation of “the crisis”. The project was supported by the grant “Art & Educació – BaumannLab” and run for 3 months during 2014 in Terrassa (Barcelona). During the process,  teenagers were accompanied into different stages of  designing critical games.

First, we discussed and reflected on the ideology and values embedded in specific games, by analyzing their features and game mechanics. Second, we tried some critical games and start to  discuss social concerns related to the current socio-political situation. Third, we start to brainstorm of possible games based on specific concerns about socio-political issues. Finally, the participating teenagers started with the process of prototyping, testing and improving and finally designing their own games.

As a result of this process, three games were produced. The first game “Moving parados” address the issue of unemployment and forced mobility. The second games “Batalla casal” address issues related to housing. The third game “Cómo hacer una buena revolución?” addresses the opportunities for social changes and the risks of certain political discourses.

For more information, visit:

To dowload the material of the games:

Archimedes: Evaluating a Full-Body Interaction Learning Environment

Archimedes is a Full-Body Interaction Learning Environment based on the Interactive Slide platform, a large inflatable slide augmented with digital technology. Archimedes was originally designed to support children’s hands-on learning on the notion of buoyancy and Archimedes principle. For its evaluation, we worked with 48 children from a local school (mean age: 11). Specifically, we carried out a qualitative, idiographic study aimed at exploring how children create bridges between embodied experience and meaning construction while interacting with a Full-Body Interaction Learning Environment. For this purpose, we analyzed children’s activity during the game and post-task interviews. Subsequently video were analyzed according to a multimodal approach. This analysis allowed to identify the possible paths through which children can transform embodied experience into an ‘object–to-think-with’ and delineate the different resources for meaning making that they employed. Furthermore, it pointed out the importance of reflection-in-action and how these reflective moments are embedded in the experiential flow and their embodied nature is displayed in users’ bodily actions, pace and use of the space (e.g. adopt an “observer position”, turn around to see the screen, etc.), and selective engagement. These outcomes contribute to expand the current understanding around embodied learning with interactive technologies, as well as suggest a set of qualities to think about interaction design and future research.



Related Publications:

Malinverni, L., Ackermann, E., & Pares, N. (2016, February). Experience as an Object to Think with: from Sensing-in-action to Making-Sense of action in Full-Body Interaction Learning Environments. In Proceedings of the TEI’16: Tenth International Conference on Tangible, Embedded, and Embodied Interaction (pp. 332-339). ACM.

Gusho – Reactive Protective Dress

m_7181Together with Cora Bellotto we developed Gusho – the Reactive Protective Dress – a wearable technology aimed at increasing awareness about environmental issues through bodily feedback.

Through a study of the effects of electromagnetic pollution on living beings Gusho aims to visualize the presence of electromagnetic radiation while providing an adaptive, shielding system. Gusho is a reactive clothing, a sort of extension of our nervous system: when it detects a spike in electromagnetic radiations, the clothing triggers a mechanic reaction and deploys a shielding fabric that transforms it into a protective shelter. By using the material and communicative power of fashion, Gusho elicits a reflection on the impact of technologies and, by making the invisible visible, it tells us a story about the environment we all live in.m_7073-1024x682
The project was produced with the support of Fondazione D’ars

Gusho – reactive protective dress from laura malinverni on Vimeo.m_7096

Embodiment & the Socio-Affective Aspects of Collaboration

Analyzing the impact of different interfaces on collaborative attitudes.


During my PhD I’ve been researching on how different interaction paradigms -one based on Full-Body Interaction and the other on Desktop computer interaction- may impact the socio-affective aspects of collaboration. The results of this research showed that Full-Body Interaction had a highly significant impact on how the participating children perceived collaboration in small groups and on how they felt about the other children in the group. This indicates that Full-Body Interaction may be beneficial for supporting the construction of a positive social space for collaborative learning, given its potential to enable the use of embodied resources, which are fundamental for social communication and social cognition.

Here you can find the paper that report the results:


Participatory Design Strategies with Children with Special Needs

During the last year I worked in different participatory design processes to design video games for and with children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Pico’s Adventure

In 2013, I designed and facilitated a 10 sessions workshop for children with ASD to co-design the game Pico’s Adventure. The game “Pico’s Adventure” was funded by the European project M4ALL and aimed at scaffolding social interaction in children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

During the project I have been in charge of organizing and carry on the participatory design with ASD children. Four children worked with us as “co-designers” to transform defined goals into an enjoyable playful experience and evaluate which aspects elicit higher level of motivation and interest in children.


The workshop took place in the “Hospital Sant Joan de Deu“ on a weekly basis. The participants selected by the UETD professionals were four children how joined a total of five sessions, during which they were designing, discussing, drawing and experimenting with us in order to create an interesting and enjoyable game. The experience has been incredibly enriching both from the point of view of the research and the game design. We are very thankful to the “co-designer” children for their contributions!

For more informations visit:

Land’s of Fog

During 2015, I designed and facilitated a 4 sessions workshop for children with ASD to co-design the game Land’s of Fog. The game “Land’s of fog” was funded by the RecerCaixa 2013 grant (Feb/2014 to Jan/2016). The research project investigates how a full-body interactive environment can foster social initiation behaviours in children with Autism while interacting with typically developed children.

During the project I have been in charge of organizing and carry on the participatory design with 4 ASD children. In the different sessions of the workshop we worked together to design the environment of the game, its characters and their behaviors.

For more informations visit:

Publications about the projects:

In case you want to know more information about the design process and methods you can read:

– Malinverni, L., Mora-Guiard, J., & Pares, N. (2016). Towards methods for evaluating and communicating participatory design: A multimodal approach.International Journal of Human-Computer Studies.

– Malinverni, L., Mora-Guiard, J., Padillo, V., Valero, L., Hervás, A., & Pares, N. (2016). An inclusive design approach for developing video games for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Computers in Human Behavior.

– Mora-Guiard, J., Malinverni, L., Pares, N., (2014) Narrative-Based Elicitation: Orchestrating Contributions from Experts and Children, in CHI ’14 Extended Abstracts Proceedings of ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, Toronto, Canada

– Malinverni, L., Mora-Guiard, J., Padillo, V., Mairena, M.A., Hervás, A., Pares, N., (2014) Participatory Design Strategies to Enhance the Creative Contribution of Children with Special Needs, in Proceedings of the 2014 Conference on Interaction Design and Children, IDC2014, Aarhus, Denmark

Rethink Game Design through Feminist Methodologies

“Or what a feminist perspective can bring to the design of video games?”

During the seminar “Xoy1 Digital Industry and Gender” (Sevilla), with Manuela Acereda we carried out a 4 hours workshop aimed at collaboratively create a series of prototypes of mini-games capable of offering a critical perspective to the topics of gender, subjectivity and identity in the Internet . The workshop was based on the re- appropriation and remix of feminist and theatrical methodologies.The methodologies used were based on three key concepts: embodied experience, synesthetic thinking and intersubjectivity. Embodied experience was been addressed through the use of theatrical techniques oriented towards putting the body into action. The synesthetic thinking has been used to translate ideas proceeding from a logocentric field of knowledge (cultural studies) to visual, theatrical and plastic languages, in order to explore the semiotic values of the materials.To enact intersubjectivity we used the sharing of subjective experiences as the starting point for ideating games. Participants were invited to share their personal experiences related to “gender/subjetivity /identity and internet” and to use their reciprocal narrations as raw materials for game design. At the end of the workshop participants prototyped different games capable of implementing novel mechanics and proposing new imaginaries.

Here you can find a presentation summarizing the experience:

And here a short abstract of the talk we gave at ECER 2014 “The Past, the Present and Future of Educational Research in Europe”, Porto, Portugal:

Learning through Full-Body Interaction

Or learning through the body in technologically enriched spaces.


For my PhD I’ve been researching on how novel interfaces may shape learning experiences. In particular my research focused around Full-Body Interaction interfaces, understood as interactive system that allow users to interact with digital technology through the use of their bodies and the physical space.  This kind of interaction opens promising possibilities given its capacity to involve the users at different levels, such as sensorimotor experience, cognitive aspects and affective factors.

If you want to know more about Full-body Interaction and its application in learning contexts you can read my paper: Malinverni, L., & Pares, N. (2014). Learning of Abstract Concepts through Full-Body Interaction: A Systematic Review. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 17(4), 100-116. Available at:

For several years I’ve been part of the collective/cultural association Since 2008 has been working and researching in the field of art and technology. Our research focused on topics that allow us to develop a critical perspective on the relationship between technology and society. In our projects we made use of different media such as audiovisual live streaming, interactive interfaces, electronics, texts, performance and visual arts with open source technologies.


We work from the perspective of open culture and “Do it yourself‚/Do It With Others” methodologies. This means: the use of free software and open hardware technology, the promotion of self-learning practices and the combination between reflection and action. Our work has been exhibited in various countries such as Spain, Austria, Norway, USA, Peru, Chile, Ecuador and Argentina.


Participatory Design: Sketching through the body

Or how to co-design for embodied interaction with children.

Involving users in the design of their own technologies is both an ethical standpoint as well as a fundamental research approach.However, what happen when we have to design for innovative interfaces such as embodied interaction?

Together with Marie-Monique Schaper we carried out several studies aimed at exploring techniques  to design specific gestures with children to improve the interaction design of a Full-Body Interaction Learning Environment.

For this purpose we explored techniques proceeding from theatre, performance and visual art. The results of our research indicate the potential of those Participatory Design methods which combine multi-modal resources as instruments to allow children to reflect upon their own knowledge and express it more precisely.sketch

If you want to know more on how research you can read:

  • Schaper, M. M., Malinverni, L., & Pares, N. (2015, June). Sketching through the body: child-generated gestures in full-body interaction design. InProceedings of the 14th International Conference on Interaction Design and Children (pp. 255-258). ACM.

The possible impossible machine


With we create the Possible Impossible Machine. The machine, exhibited in Liwoli festival the Kunstuniversität Linz, borns as a reflection on the limits of “human-computer-interaction” when compared with the richness and variety of possibilities offered by the interaction between humans.

The machine works only when 9 people get organized and activated together and in the same moment, the 9 sensors of the machine.

The modules containing the sensors were built by different people in a series of workshops conducted between Barcelona and Linz.The machine thus becomes a tool for discussing problems, a meta-cognitive object and a self-learning dynamic.

The machine wants to be a methodology, an open process of construction, deconstruction and mutation. It’s aim is to generate pretexts for the reflection about the dynamics of collective creation and the possible (and impossible) displacement of the notion of open source.

6319149343_39482bc989_z (1)


Year: 2011

Technique: software programmed with Processing and controlled by the Arduino microcontroller with different types of sensors. Modules built with recycled material and tapes

Dimensions: 4m x 4m


Minipimer’s filescape


Minipimer’s filescape was created with and is an installation in the exhibition SummerLAB-showcase in Laboral (Gijón) and emerges as SummerLAB 2010 memory.The installation takes the form of an infographic device that crosses and mixes the concepts of time, collage, fragmentation and subjective mapping with the construction of a narrative.img_5262 The installation arises from a work of organization and classification of  the database of videos of the live streaming of SummerLAB 2010 and consists of different analogic devices (photos, tag cloud and video) which show the multiplicity of possible arrangements that can be performed with a set of files and how such process represents just one of the possible ways to generate new narratives from a database.

The result is the construction of a map that, through the use of various forms of data visualization, shows the impossibility of generating an objective reading device within a database.img_5306 Installation

Year: 2010

Technique: video, graphite on wall, photos screenshots,pins and sewing thread

Dimensions: 12m x 3m154415_133932646659858_4053336_n

Body, Technology and Learning

Or whether our bodies may help us in learning.


During my Master project I’ve been working in the design and evaluation of an educational application aimed at supporting the learning of  Archimedes’ principle through concrete and embodied experiences. Results proceeding from an experimental study carried out with 331 children show modest but noticeable improvements in test scores from children that played with the embodied interface, thus suggesting potential design directions for the development of educational games

If you want to know more about the project, read: Malinverni, L., Silva, B. L., & Parés, N. (2012, June). Impact of embodied interaction on learning processes: design and analysis of an educational application based on physical activity. In Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Interaction Design and Children (pp. 60-69). ACM.

Available at:

Mi primer patch

36068_123700274349762_6893050_n Mi primer patch was created with It is a mural cartography produced in the framework of Hangar Taller Obert 2010. The map brings together the elements that constitute the practice of the collective by using the structure of Pure Data programming environment.

The development of the work arises from the reflectionabout the displacement of the notion of free software and open source to artistic production. Believing that in art “open the code” means to visualize the process means, mi primer patch is a artisanal cartography that speaks the language of computing and emphasizes the connection as a hub for the operation of any system.miprimerpatch_assembly


Year: 2010

Technique: pen and cardboard, printed texts, wires on wood

Dimensions: 2m x 2m36068_123700264349763_1838454_n



(barter in Italian) -barato (cheap in spanish) is an itinerant participatory installation with the purpose of reflect on others possibilities of circulation of consumer products. The intervention Baratto-barato was first performed at the Festival “Perpetracions” (Barcelona).

The installation is constituted by a room where  are placed objects found in the streets. Visitors were invited to take with them any objects and left there what they had at hand: this dynamic create a chain of exchanges.

The work has a corresponding blog ( where are reported the photos of the exchanged objects.baratto-1024x358


Year: 2009

Technique: participatory happening, objects found in the streets

Dimensions: 3m x 2m


592_9230ObraWiki is a research project about collective artistic creation processes. The project used as a source of inspiration different computational and cultural products based on open content (free software, wikipedia ..).

The work focuses on the significant increase in recent years, of what scholars have called “the paradox of opensource” that is, the fact that collaborative works, even if in many cases are neither designed or paid, can work as well as products designed in a business context.

But what are the measures that can ensure its working and which are the ones that can weaken it? What are the limits that collective creation can reach, before transforming into a inconclusive chaos, a number of voices so confused that no can produce nothing more than a nonsense whisper?

Through the use of an experimental methodology ObraWiki opens the debate on these issues, investigating within visual arts context, the boundary that separate the effectiveness of collective intelligence and the risk of an inconclusive chaos.

592_9245 Happening

Year: 2009

Technique: participatory happening of collective creation, wood tables with layers of transparent plastic593_9371

Museo Improvvisato

14museoMuseo Improvvisato is an intervention in public space built entirely from waste, based on the subversion of the value commonly attributed to waste and on the reflection about the role of museum as an art legitimization device.

This piece consisted of the creation of an exhibition space from the waste found in the ground around the site of intervention.During the process each piece of waste receives a title and the intervention was concluded with the organization of a guided tour to the exhibition.

The use of waste as an object of ready-made art underline how the process of attribution of value is simply a social situated act.  16museoAt the same time the process emphasizes that our attention to the waste can be transformed by a conscious practice of evaluation.

Intervention in public space

Year: 2008

Technique: site-specifics waste, cardboard

Dimensions: variable13museo15museo12museo9museo11museo