lauren emmerson




a therapy toy for children with autism

The Product

Kin is a therapy toy for children with autism to help them learn and understand emotions. Utilizing six customizable touch screens, Kin helps children gain a greater understanding of emotional intelligence via recognizing the emotions on the faces of the people on the screens. Therapists can customize games for Kin to help strengthen weaker areas of child’s understanding. Kin tracks and records data from sessions in and out of the therapists office, allowing the therapist to review data they might otherwise not have been able to utilize.


Kin’s development focused on three major issues that face the parents, therapist and the child with autism. First, therapy tools focusing on emotions are outdated and undynamic, they do not promote kinetic interaction, which is known to help children stay engaged and learn more wholly. The second issue is that therapy stops at the door. Children learn better when they practice consistently, and Kin allows them to do this by using the same tools in both the therapists’ office and at home. Lastly, a major issue that faces parents is a feeling of hopelessness in that they are unable to see progress within their child. Kin tracks and records data, and then aggregates this data and gives parents full progress reports to help give them confidence in their child’s progress.

The User Experience


Current situation

In the current situation, therapists use flat, outdated two-dimensional cards to help their patients gain emotional intelligence.


How Kin benefits therapists

Kin helps therapists by creating a tool for them to track data on their patient in and out of the office, as well as being something that fully engages their patient to help them learn.


How Kin benefits children

Kin helps children with autism gain emotional intelligence through three-dimensional kinetic interaction



An important aspect of Kin’s design is its modular construction. Kin is a toy, and toys break. Making Kin easily and economically repairable is vitally important. It’s major stress points, the corners of the cube, are padded to help protect the screens. In the case that a screen breaks, all corners are removable and replaceable just like each and every other part of Kin. While it’s designed to be as durable as possible, designing for the inevitable allows for Kin to be utilized fully.

Texture Inspiration


Kinterface Wireframe


While using Kin, games are controlled and customized using gestures on the touch screens. The therapist can unlock the cube to create a queue of games for the child as well as selecting an emotion to focus on. The images are customizable through a library that comes with Kin as well as having the possibility to be personalized with images of people in the child’s life. The therapist can upload the data from the cube to their office computer to analyze and further customize the games there as well. Kin can communicate both ways, allowing the child to express their emotion to the therapist via the cube. In situations where the child’s emotional state is very heightened, Kin can help them calm down through a series of follow along breathing exercises.


Innovation Space

This project was my senior capstone; I was part of a studio called Innovation Space, where sponsored cross-disciplinary teams of five worked together to create a product. We created Kin, the cube that cares. If you are interested in seeing our full Innovation Proposal, please look through the book below.