Brisbane invention helps kids with an intellectual disability STOMP to success

Cutting edge computer gaming software which could help young people with an intellectual disability learn valuable new skills to improve their lives while having fun has been developed here in Queensland.

The STOMP software suite developed by 21-year-old Queensland University of Technology graduate Kevin Gosschalk is being trialled at Endeavour Foundation’s Windsor Learning and Lifestyle service for people with an intellectual disability with amazing results. It’s like nothing Australia has seen before.

The software projects interactive holographic images on to a large mat to drive games which participants control with movements of their hands, feet and bodies, whether it’s playing a giant piano, painting a room-sized canvas, playing World Cup soccer or learning to cross a busy road.

It brings a whole new dimensions to teaching people with an intellectual disability, by making education fun and memorable. Not only that, but it offers exercise, promotes creativity, develops teamwork and participating skills and helps participants enjoy a sense of achievement. Endeavour CEO David Barbagallo said the benefit to clients was amazing and immediate.

“Our clients are fascinated with STOMP and engage for long periods of time, moving constantly and changing the games,” David said. “You can just see how much fun they are having by the looks on their faces.

“As large groups of people can use the mat at any one time it is a great way to teach co-operation. “

Stomp could have many applications in helping Endeavour improve the lives of people with a disability. Inventor Kevin Gosschalk, a graduate of QUT’s Bachelor of Games and Interactive Entertainment designed and built the video system during a summer scholarship at the Australasian CRC for Interaction Design (ACID) at the request of the Endeavour Foundation which supports and provides opportunities for people with a disability.

“The Endeavour Foundation asked us to create some interactive technology for their clients, many of whom have an intellectual disability, so that they could learn and improve their understanding of technology itself, while practising gross motor skills, collaboration and other social skills,” Kevin said.

“We are looking at producing mats to help older people improve their balance and prevent falls, as an exercise stimulator for children as well as adults, and it could also teach dance steps or music – the applications appear to be endless.”

Mr Gosschalk said similar floor games had been developed before but it appeared Stomp was the first that was simple to use “with a press of a button you can change the games, you don’t need instructions and there is no program to set up”.

The games include a large size piano keyboard, a drum kit and a guitar so users can stomp out a tune. Other games involve stomping on invading robots, paddling in a fishpond and whacking robots as they emerge from their hiding place. The games’ vivid appealing images were drawn by QUT web designer Michael Burke and Mr Gosschalk’s project was supervised by Dr Peta Wyeth from QUT’s Faculty of Science and Technology.

See also:

Stomp video game, Poppy Masselos, Education Blog, The Courer Mail, 22 July 2010