The Association for Qualitative Research
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Carboard cut-outs with Nintendo Labo

It's kind of ironic that the most innovative idea in technology this year so far consists of a few sheets of cardboard: Nintendo Labo for the Switch console. Labo consists of a video game and some pre-cut cardboard sheets. Slot these pieces together, though, then add the Switch controllers, and the magic begins.

The player can create a real life remote controlled car, a telescopic fishing rod, a working piano, and a full-sized robot suit. These cardboard toys then connect with the video game in surprising ways. The robot suit, for example, allows you to destroy an on-screen city using your body. But the real joy is the way the cardboard construction almost demands the user personalise it with their own drawings, stickers and Sellotape.

Labo is part of an increasing trend towards mixed life experiences, where the real and digital worlds are brought together; the real adding some physicality to the virtual, while the virtual adds a bit of magic. For those of us in research, it points towards a future where packaging tests might be conducted using blank cardboard boxes for the participant to hold — with the designs then virtually overlaid on top. Or sending out cardboard sheets for participants to then slot together into physical prototypes — and using the digital world to help them visualise the final products in action.

 

Niall Smith
Copyright © Association for Qualitative Research, 2018