The Octopus With Emotions
Octemo is a completely customisable language therapy toy that seeks to help children with autism and other cognitive disabilities that impair the ability to recognise feelings. It uses sight (cartoon lookalikes and look of fabrics), sound (voices), and touch (feel of fabrics) to create associations with basic emotions.
Five prototypes are currently available for trial. If you work with SEN children, are a language therapist, psychologist or parent of an autistic child and would like to become a tester, please click here to get in touch stating your relationship to the child/children and follow the project on twitter and facebook @Octemo_Octopus.
For more information about the journey of the project and justifications for design decisions, the initial report can be downloaded here.
Each leg speaks a different emotion while the head says "I feel", to encourage children to learn and speak in full sentences.
Development of the toy included the way in which fabrics would be differentiated. After that, each physical component had to be developed further.
Each leg has a 'squeeze to speak' voice module with pre-recorded emotions. These are sewn on to hooks that hook onto a ring.
The ring is then attached to the head, which also has a voice module, allowing it to speak.
A set of cards will state the emotion and have an illustration to go with it. The avatar can be made to look like the child in question, allowing for more effective education as autistic children are more likely to grasp the idea of emotions when seeing them on a character, to which they can relate, i.e. themselves.
The back of each card corresponds to the pattern of the leg that speaks the same emotion that is shown on the front of the card.
Parents can use the cards with the toy to reinforce the learning process
and create more opportunities for learning through play.
As the child gets older, more tentacles with new emotions can be added to accommodate the child's learning and development.
The detachable ring has an opening which allows it to be
attached to bodies other than the head.
The product is accompanied by an online service through which parents can order a custom toy for their child
Below are the main screens to customise and order via.
London Games Festival 2016
Now Play This "Strange Controllers" exhibition and live interview with reporters from The Guardian newspaper
"I'm retired now but I worked in a school for children with cognitive disabilities for 30 years and something like this would be really good for the younger ones."
- Ex SEN teacher
"My son's autistic, and he picked it up and started using the 'hungry' leg almost instinctively. He's 8 so not quite the target age but you can see that it can be effective."
- Parent of autistic child
"I liked choosing it all myself. It was fun, but it didn't have my hairstyle."
- 6 year old visitor