Interactive play mat for children with ASD wins design prize

Lucy sits at a desk with a prototype for Bloom

We are pleased to announce that Lucy Fidgett, an industrial design graduate from Loughborough University, has won the inaugural Assistive Technology Design Prize.

The Assistive Technology Design Prize

In June, we invited students and graduates to enter product ideas that could change the lives of disabled adults or children, older people or people living with long term health conditions.

The competition, co-hosted by the Disabled Living Foundation (DLF), aimed to provide a springboard for the development of a product idea in the area of assistive technology.

An initial shortlisting and series of interviews took place in July and Lucy’s ‘Bloom’ idea was selected as the idea with the strongest potential. Designability staff were impressed with the work Lucy had done with families and health professionals to help her develop the idea.

Introducing Bloom for children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Bloom is an interactive play mat which encourages social play between a child who has an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and their parent.

The play mat lights up and vibrates in respond to touch, providing a sensory environment for child and parent to explore together.

The mat facilitates a play therapy called ‘Intensive Interaction’, where parents mirror the actions of their child. In doing so, the parent is validating their child’s play, treating it as though it has communicative significance. When parents mirror their child’s actions, or vice versa, the flower centre illuminates and the lights and vibrations become more intense. This sensory feedback encourages moments of shared attention between parent and child and helps to build up the child’s social communication and interaction skills.

Continuing to develop the play mat at Designability

As the winner, Lucy has been awarded funding from DLF to support the development of her idea and to help cover any associated expenses.

Ed Mylles, DLF’s Interim Director said: “DLF has a long history of working with manufacturers and suppliers and we are delighted to be in involved at this stage, supporting Lucy’s product development.

DLF is committed to supporting people to find the right bit of equipment whenever they may need it, but quite often people tell us that there isn’t the solution for their needs on the market. We value the support of organisations like Designability who can help mentor students on how to bring innovative ideas to the market.”

Lucy will be working alongside us at Designability this summer with support from our design and engineering team who have experience of bringing assistive technology products to the market.

She is looking forward to the opportunity to bring her product idea to life: “Bloom was my final year project at university. After a year of research, development and testing, I did not want Bloom to remain only a concept. The Assistive Technology Design Prize will enable me to evolve the design into something that could truly enhance the lives of many children.

“I’m really looking forward to working with the team at Designability to further develop Bloom and potentially help bring it to the market.”