Pal: AI Friend for Children


Thousands of kids in America experience social withdrawal from their peers at ages as young as four. To help assist them grow their social skills and encourage engagement with the outdoors and their peers, my team designed Pal.

Pal is an IoT Device paired with a tablet application which uses artificial intelligence to track the child’s location, their proximity to other pal users, and encourage group play both inside and outdoors.


Team Roles:

Gwendolyn Leister: UX Design, Graphics, Research, Production & Ideation
JC Fennell: UX Design, Graphics, Production, Research, & Ideation
Jen Wang: UX Design, Research, & Ideation


THE Problem

Social withdrawal in children can start at a young age and often these children do not learn how to maintain healthy relationships.

THE Goal

Create a low risk voice assistant to help these children make new friends, connect them with their busy parents, and encourage expressing their emotions.


Vision Video

42% of children that were rated as highly shy in early childhood then had anxiety problems in adolescence.
— Social Withdrawal in Childhood, Annual Review of Psychology (2009)
Socially withdrawn children are concurrently and predictively at risk for a range of negative adjustment outcomes.
— Social Withdrawal in Childhood, Annual Review of Psychology (2009)

User Studies


Study #1: Only Child

One child with one of two working parent

Parental Interview, Child Interview, Robot Rating & Analysis, and Current Environment Study


Study #2: Siblings

Two children with their two working parents

Group Interviews, Robot Rating & Analysis, Board Game Exercise, and Parental Interviews


Study #3: Friends & Siblings

Five children from three different families

Group Sketching, Character Ideation, 1 on 1 Interviews, Drawing and Questionnaire Packets

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Badges & Draw

Sun-Meter & Friends


Base station

The Pal kit comes with a traveling Pal, as well as a stationary base for the kid and their friends to dock their traveling Pals for group activities.