Programming a Robotic Toy with a Block Coding Application: A Usability Study with Non-programmer Adults

  • Muhammet RamoğluEmail author
  • Çağlar Genç
  • Kerem Rızvanoğlu
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 10288)


Recently, sophisticated robotic toys have commercially emerged into our lives. Apart from being only a toy, some of these smart devices are programmable for accomplishing commands given by the end-user. However, usually, end-users are not experts in robotics or programming. In order to explore the usability issues related to the non-programmers’ experience of controlling the robotic toys, we conducted a user study with non-programmers (N = 9) by using Sphero (a robotic toy) and tested its mobile application, called SPRK Lightning Lab for Sphero, which adopted visual programming language with a block-based coding interface. Our procedure consisted of a pre-test and a semi-structured post-test interview as well as an exploring session for the participants and three tasks with a short semi-structured interview at the end of each task. Our findings, which highlighted the usability issues of SPRK Lightning Lab for Sphero application, contribute to the field by providing design suggestions on using a digital medium and a tangible device together, the usability issues of block coding by non-programmers and learnability in a robotic toy application.


Robotic toys Visual programming Block coding Usability test Mobile application 



Thanks to İdil Bostan and Tülin Bozkurt Hazar for proofreading.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Muhammet Ramoğlu
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Çağlar Genç
    • 3
  • Kerem Rızvanoğlu
    • 4
  1. 1.Graduate School of Science, Engineering and Technology, Industrial Product Design DepartmentIstanbul Technical UniversityIstanbulTurkey
  2. 2.Arçelik A.Ş., Industrial Design DirectorateIstanbulTurkey
  3. 3.Koç University – Arçelik Research Center for Creative Industries (KUAR)IstanbulTurkey
  4. 4.Faculty of CommunicationGalatasaray UniversityIstanbulTurkey

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