September 18, 2012

By Graydon Gordian

Kinect Sesame Street TV Brings Educational Content to 2-Way Television

Since the 1980s Sesame Workshop has been working to provide children ways to not just watch but genuinely interact with our educational content. Over the years VHS and CD-ROM games offered limited interactivity, but nothing approaches what the Workshop and Microsoft have partnered to create.

Starting today “Kinect Sesame Street TV,” a groundbreaking 2-way television, Xbox-based experience that has plenty of educational potential, is now available for purchase.“It’s an opportunity to interact with our content,” said Sesame Workshop’s Vice President of Education and Research Rosemarie Truglio, PhD. “There’s a physical action to go with each concept. It’s truly interactive. That’s the beauty of this.”

Using a video camera that captures the image and movements of children as well as their parents and siblings (who often enjoy participating in the activities as much as the 2- to 4-year-olds Sesame Street’s educational content traditionally targets), “Kinect Sesame Street TV” intends to use a child’s physicality to help them learn fundamental concepts like spatial relations, enumeration and letter sounds.

For example, in one episode Grover spills coconuts all over the floor, and needs you to throw a specific number of them back to him. As the child makes a throwing motion with his arm – throwing, jumping, waving and clapping are the four basic actions children are asked to execute — the coconuts appear back on the screen. This interaction may offer the child an opportunity to more deeply engage with the concept than 1-way television traditionally has.

“We’re breaking the fourth wall,” said Sesame Workshop Senior Producer Todd Slepian. “Our characters can ask you something and you can respond.”

Over the course of the eight 40-plus minute episodes, children can appear on screen in an augmented reality version of Elmo’s World, help find hidden objects in a layered interactive street story, or be led by your furry monster friends through original interactive videos.

Here at Sesame Workshop we’ve been working on “Kinect Sesame Street TV” for a long time. We believe it has lots of potential, and we’re excited to be able finally to show the world.

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