Research and Design

Smart Hands

By Peter Cossey on 9 September, 2016.

A development journey - from napkin to prototype and beyond.

In 2012, 10 months after the birth of my first daughter I created a napkin spec for a counting app called ‘Smart Hands’. The idea for the app was heavily inspired by Mem Fox’s classic story book ‘Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes’ and each time I read the book with my daughter we would proceed to count her fingers and her toes, then my fingers and my toes.

Notebook sketches

Such napkin. Much spec.

As a real-life interactive game for parents and babies, counting fingers is pretty awesome for everyone involved — babies love the tactile feedback and the progression to the inevitable finish. And sometimes they are completely astounded to discover that they have toes and that these toes can get wiggled!

Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes storybook cover

A beautiful reading experience for parents and children — love your work Mem!

My ‘Smart Hands’ app would be a horribly inferior experience to the real-life game but I thought it might be something fun for toddlers or preschoolers.

The Smart Hands spec stayed hidden in a notebook for a few years before I had an opportunity to do something about it at work. The first iteration was a prototype build in Unity 3D by my colleague Elias Nohra as part of some game development we were exploring at the studio. Elias and I had worked on an educational video game together after leaving university and this app seemed like a small project to reconnect with the space.

Not long after Elias finished the first prototype, Annie Wilson started working at This Little Duck and with the three of us being avid video-game fans we started thinking about using the app as a testing ground for our game development work.

And so began the journey of a studio side project in prototyping, art direction, animation and game development. I’m not sure if it will ever make it onto an app store but either way we’ll write about the journey here.