Multimedia game
VIRTUAL   Environment for AgoraPhobia

Robot YOLO: Fostering 

CREATIVITY in children


Ph.D. thesis by Patrícia Alves-Oliveira.




YOLO stands for "Your Own Living Object". This robot is part of a new generation of technological toys designed to foster creativity in children during play. 



Ana Paiva, 

Depart. Computer Science and Engineering, at “Instituto Superior Técnico” from the University of Lisbon


Guy Hoffman, 

Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

(Cornel University)

Creativity is one of the most important and desired nowadays’ abilities as most developed societies are shifting from an industrialized economy to a creative economy. Creativity can also be developed and improved. 

During the Ph.D. of Patrícia Alves-Oliveira, the design of YOLO was developed, grounded on creativity research literature and on iterative co-design sessions with children. Throughout 3 years, a robot was created, fabricated, and develop to foster creative-driven behaviors in children. Guidelines for the design of robots for children-robot design are proposed. 


Watch the presentation of Patrícia Alves-Oliveira at the Human-Robot Interaction Conference in 2021 (the paper received BEST PAPER AWARD in Design)

Both Hardware and Software of the robot were created and published in open access in scientific journals, and the robot was licensed under the CC Attribution 4.0 International. The Github platform includes product information and a wiki page at Github was created to help the user install, run, and improve the software that controls the YOLO robot. The installation guide directs users on how to install the current software version of YOLO and the API documentation guides on how to produce programs using YOLO and improve the functioning of the current version of the software. In addition, all the instructions to build this robot are available for the general community. Many tutorial videos were developed and posted on Youtube by Patrícia Alves-Oliveira to facilitate its development. Examples: How to heat brass inserts (3:11); How to cut and drill a circuit board (5:42); How to hack a mouse (4:23); How to attach glowing fibers (3:26). See also her website.  


YOLO was also tested in schools and summer camps to examine the effectiveness in fostering convergent and divergent thinking in children, two important forms of creative thought. 

The video "The Medal" is a story created by a child during her playful interaction with robot YOLO (while participating in the research studies testing the efficacy of the robot in fostering creativity). The video was developed based on the child's story to give life to the creative story. 


Margarida Antunes, Ana Bispo, Ankita Chandak, Albert Chu, Ian Cloutier, Rebecca Cooper, Matthew A. Cronin, Samuel Gomes, Priyanka Kompella, Beatriz Maia, Diogo Martins, Peter Moegenburg, Daniel Mota, Andreia Nóbrega, Sara Ibérico Nogueira, Daniela Nunes, André Pires, Isabel Valverde, Carla Xavier


"An Adventure at the Hospital": the surgery day 

Creation of Preoperative Educational Materials for pediatric outpatient surgery



Several materials (boardgame, booklets, videos, and a multimedia game) were developed during the Ph.D. of Sara Fernandes under my supervision & Francisco Esteves. Sara worked with a grant from the Portuguese National Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT). All materials were tested and the results were published in peer-review articles. Latter, we created a version of the board game edited by “Ideias com História” to be shared with Hospitals and the community.   

Software Multimedia


Board game & Booklet


FLOWSENSE - Software for continuous recording of Emotions


“Flowsense” prototype software was developed for continuous recording of self-report emotions and physiological responses. It was customized for specific projects. 

Collaboration with Octavian Postolache


CUBUS - Software to foster Creativity

Collaboration with GAIPS from INESC-ID/IST, through André Pires (INESC-ID/IST/UL), Patrícia Alves-Oliveira (ISCTE-IUL / INESC-ID), Ana Paiva (INESC-ID/IST/UL), and Carlos Martinho (INESC-ID/IST/UL) in the development of the digital tool “CUBUS” to foster children's creativity.

CUBUS makes use of autonomous virtual agents that express emotions. The agents of CUBUS act as characters for the stories that children create, hinting for new storylines. 


Tutorial video, in which we detail how CUBUS works

Conference presentation @ the 12th International Conference on Computational Creativity ICCC'21

A more detailed account of the development and findings can be found in the Publication folder


Environment for AgoraPhobia


Master's Dissertation by Tomaz Saraiva

under my supervision

& cosupervision of Pedro Gamito (ULHT)