Our aim is to create a game that teaches children something about the collection and the history of the objects in the collection. The idea is that during the museum visit, children collect blocks, and at the end they can build a tower with the blocks. However, not all blocks go together, they only go together if they have something in common, for example the same subject, made in the same era, or of the same kind. If the blocks don't go together, they will start to vibrate and make the tower collapse.
Not only are the blocks pieces of a puzzle (so that kids have to find out whether objects are somehow semantically related), there is also a communicative and educational element. When a child touches an object, the object starts to talkm to explain what it is, its history etc. Ideally, this interaction would be personalised, ie. depending on the age of the kid. Also, the blocks can explain when they do not fit together, and why not.
For our prototype we built three blocks: one smart block that would 'know' which blocks go with it, one block that does fit, and one block that doesn't fit.
Ideally, all the blocks are smart blocks, for the prototype we opted to only build one smart block. Although due to time constraints we also had to fake the smart block. What we did implement was the feedback the blocks gave. When picked up, the block would tell something about itself as to give a hint with which other blocks it could go. When put onto another block it would give feedback on whether it was a good match or not and why.
We used iPhones to make the blocks 'talk'.
We had intended to use a simple circuit board and an arduino to make the blocks know which ones go together and which ones not, but couldn't get that working within the time constraints. So we had to revert to plan B, which was a button that was pressed during the demo.
Images of the (making of) the prototype go here
Impression of the iPhone's UIAccelerometer: measuring x,y and z transformations. With this the iBlock can detect movement, i.e. picking-up, replacement, shake, putting-down.