Call: 2nd Workshop on Smart Toys++: Exploiting the Social Connectedness for Playing and Learning (at IDC 2021)


2nd Workshop on Smart Toys++: Exploiting the Social Connectedness for Playing and Learning
26 or 27 June, 2021

To be held at the ACM Interaction Design and Children (IDC) conference 2021

Deadline for submission of contributions: April 19, 2021


The prior edition of this workshop, the 1st Workshop on Smart Toys, Smart Tangibles, Robots and other Smart Things for Children, initiated the discussion of concerns related to interaction with settings and devices that may exhibit smart behaviors thanks to embedded electronics, data processing and artificial intelligence.

Under the umbrella of smart toys, a myriad of interactive systems have addressed a variety of scenarios considering entertainment, education, sustainability, social and environmental learning through play. Tangibles and small toy robots prevail; but interaction technology based on wearables, conversational interfaces or augmented reality may also be part of this landscape to implement smart toys that are both social and/or connected. Due to the pandemic, social isolation forced us to change the way we interact with each other. We are convinced that smart technologies can open new avenues for promoting social connectedness enabling more interactive playing and learning activities.

Thus, this second workshop calls for participation to academics, students and practitioners working on/interested in how Smart Toys of any form can be used to promote social connectedness.


We aim to continue the open discussion on challenges related to smart toys, with a special focus on how to rethink their design in such a way that they become connected and/or become promoters of social connectedness. This connectedness may be (i) physical, e.g. using tangibles that promote social interaction (co-located), or (ii) virtual (remote), e.g. connectedness through the change of data. For this we propose to ideate scenarios, discuss the different degrees of “connectedness” that may be relevant, anticipate concerns regarding data privacy and ethics when smart toys are reframed to function in a connected way, and reflect on how social interaction can be shaped regardless users being co-located or on remote.

Following themes will be addressed:

  • Design methods and methodologies: Which important principles must be considered to design future smart toys? How to design for social connectedness (remote or co-located)? Are there suitable and relevant methods for devising more connected smart toys?
  • Shaping and scoping smart toys interactive settings: Which contexts are more suitable to benefit from connectedness? What different technologies can be considered and how different connectedness would enable interactions in each case? Which scenarios can we (participants) anticipate or could be interesting to explore in the future? In which scenarios can smart toys be useful for different user groups and for socializing between different user groups? (e.g., intergenerational interactions)
  • AI and data-driven interactions: in the shaped scenarios, how should data feeding algorithms be gathered? which data can be used? what for? how should data privacy and ethics issues be handled?


The full-day workshop will be held online as part of IDC 2021.

We welcome three different types of contributions:

  1. position papers in relation to any aspect relevant to the workshop;
  2. Live-demo or video, accompanied by a short description and potential benefits as an input to the workshop;
  3. Expression of interest to participate by students, non-academics and practitioners, describing their background and a motivation of what they would like to do/achieve in relation to the topics of the workshop.

For any of the types, participants are requested to submit their contribution in PDF following the ACM Master Article Submission Templates (single column, no longer than 4 pages). To grant participation, your contribution must be submitted to the organizers before the deadline below via email to alejandro.catala [at] For any query, feel free to contact any of the organizers.

The contributions will be subject to a juried process to assess their relevance for the workshop, ensuring diversity as well. Accepted contributions will only be distributed internally among the participants to facilitate workshop preparation and networking, on the premise of not redistributing the materials. Some asynchronous networking activities are planned prior to the workshop day in order to prepare a successful synchronous session.

At least one author of each accepted position paper must attend the workshop and all participants must register for both the workshop and the main conference.


Submission of contributions: April 19, 2021
Notification of acceptance: May 3, 2021
Workshop session: 26 or 27 June (Online at IDC2021)


Alejandro Catala, Research Centre in Intelligent Technologies (CiTIUS), Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, Spain
Cristina Sylla, Research Center on Child Studies CIEC/ITI/LARSyS, University of Minho, Portugal
Arzu Guneysu Ozgur, CHILI Lab, EPFL, Switzerland


We are planning to edit a Special Issue on Smart Technologies for Social Connectedness. TBD


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