Designing the Internet of Toys for and with Children: A Participatory Design Case Study

  • Maarten Van Mechelen
  • Bieke Zaman
  • Lizzy Bleumers
  • Ilse Mariën
Part of the Studies in Childhood and Youth book series (SCY)


This chapter critically reflects on a participatory design (PD) approach that was used by an interdisciplinary team to design new Internet of Toys applications for the home and school environment (the WOOPI project). PD aims to empower people in the design of technology and is characterized by three core principles: having a say, mutual learning and co-realization. Overall, the project was positively evaluated, but adhering to PD’s principles proved to be challenging due to conflicting agendas among the project partners, the target group’s young ages (4–6 years) and a tight project schedule. Based on the lessons learned, six guidelines are presented to adhere to PD’s core principles and strengthen users’ participation, including children, in the design of connected toys.


Participatory design Internet of toys Connected toys Children Rights of the child 



This study was part of WOOPI (, a cooperative-PLUS project facilitated by (former) iMinds Media and funded by the IWT for participating companies. Ethical clearance from the ethics committee (SMEC, KU Leuven) was obtained during the project. The authors are grateful to the project partners and the children, parents and teachers who participated in the research and design activities.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maarten Van Mechelen
    • 1
    • 2
  • Bieke Zaman
    • 2
  • Lizzy Bleumers
    • 3
  • Ilse Mariën
    • 3
  1. 1.Delft University of TechnologyDelftThe Netherlands
  2. 2.KU LeuvenLeuvenBelgium
  3. 3.Vrije Universiteit BrusselBrusselsBelgium

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