Illustration of person sitting at a table with an ipad


The strength of collaborative games is that they distribute activities between players and encourage them to work together to achieve a common goal. They promote social interaction, cognitive development, and can even improve the quality of personal relationships. All these benefits transfer directly to both children with disabilities and those without and have the potential for impact that goes beyond the child and extends into the community. 

The audience for Circle (our collaborative gaming platform) are children with moderate-to-severe cognitive and/or physical disabilities who experience difficulty with activities and often lose out on the benefits of playing with their families and caregivers. Using human body communication (HBC), Circle engages those with and without disabilities equally by normalizing the experience of play between them using touch as the primary input. Touch, the strongest sense at birth, is a basic human need and the primary way people bond with one another. However, for many along the moderate-to-severely disabled spectrum, touch is only ever experienced as an essential activity (e.g., bathing, feeding, and changing clothes). Our design intent is to magnify our players’ physical expression though collaborative play. 

In Circle, touch is translated into game input through a Bluetooth-Low-Energy module that wirelessly transmits the status of a General-Purpose Input/Output (GPIO) pin. When touch is detected and a conductive path is established the pin is set to a digital “1”, otherwise the pin is set to a digital “0.” These signals are captured by the iPad’s game app via Bluetooth becoming input that sets the game in motion. 


Game Design; Social Good; Accessibility; Interdisciplinary Collaboration 

Advising Team

Kyoung Lee Swearingen
Scott Swearingen
Asimina Kiourti (Electrical & Computer Engineering) 
Animation & Games Research Group 

Current Students Working on the Project 

Min Liu, MFA Candidate
Cameron King, BS Candidate (Electrical & Computer Engineering) 

Profile Description and Preferred Qualifications 

Student with experience and/or interest in product/wearables design, game design, 3D computer animation, and 3D printing. Student should be willing to work with an interdisciplinary team comprised of faculty and students from various departments and be able to receive and apply feedback through rapid iteration. 

Additional Information 

Circle has won over $70,000 in grants from both internal and external funding agencies, and has hired over 9 student workers from Design, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Computer Science Engineering, and the College of Nursing. Our team has filed multiple patents and is actively collaborating with domain experts within and outside of Ohio State.