i n v e s t i g a t o r s :
Keith Evan Green
Architecture/ECE, PI
Ian D. Walker

ECE/Robotics, Co-PI
Susan King Fullerton
Education, Co-PI
Elise Lewis
Library & Info Sci. [USC], Co-PI
George Schafer
PDBE PhD Student

Amith Vijaykumar
ECE MS Student

p a r t n e r s :

Richland Library
Columbia, South Carolina
Richland One School District
Columbia South Carolina
Stone Academy Elementary Sch.
Greenville, South Carolina

f u n d i n g :

U.S. National Science Foundation # IIS-1352992

NSF logo


LIT ROOM concept images

Right and below: our prototype and pictures from assessments

prototype as object

kids amazed

The LIT ROOM is an evocative, literacy support tool at room-scale.

A video
showing the first engagement of school kids with the LIT ROOM.
A time-lapsed video showing assembly of the LIT ROOM in Richland Library.

The LIT ROOM features a novel suite of user-friendly, networked, “architectural-robotic” artifacts embedded in the everyday physical space of the public library. This cyber-physical environment is transformed by words read by its young visitors so that the everyday space of the public library “merges” with the imaginary space of the book: The book is a room. And should the LIT ROOM’s intelligent reconfigurations not match the imagined spaces of young readers, the young readers “fine-tune” the room through tangible interfaces. Our efficacy studies suggest that literacy can be cultivated in a space that is at once physical and digital and evocative of the book being read.

Our test bed was a ground zero for literacy: Richland Library of Columbia, South Carolina – the largest public library in a state that ranks among the lowest in the “State Technology and Science Index,” and among the highest in numbers of people who are both illiterate and living below the poverty line.

The broader impacts included a child-centered participatory design process in a real-world public space; a LIT KIT and website that extend the reach of the research, developed in a cross-listed course taught by the Clemson PIs; and the empowerment of children by way of playful interactions with robotic elements. As we come to live, play and work with robots, our team fundamentally strives to cultivate in children the capacity to shape a world that is physical, technical, increasingly digital and inherently social. Words become worlds.

GUI and wall
Tablet interface programmed by kids         Detail of one of four robotic walls

Schafer. G, Green, K. E., Walker, I. D. and Lewis, E.  A Networked Suite of Mixed-Technology Robotic Artifacts for Advancing Literacy in Children. Proceedings of IDC 2012: the International Conference on Interaction Design and Children, June 12-15, Bremen, Germany, Germany, pp. 168-171.

Publications on our The LIT KIT - the "portable LIT ROOM":
Schafer. G, Green, K. E., Walker, I. D., Fullerton, S. K. and Lewis, E. An Interactive, Cyber-Physical Read-Aloud Environment: Results and Lessons from an Evaluation Activity with Children and their Teachers. In Proceedings of DIS 2014, the ACM conference on Designing Interactive Systems, Vancouver, B.C., pp. 865–874.

Schafer. G, Green, K. E., Walker, I. D. and Lewis, E, Fullerton, S. et. al. Designing the LIT KIT: An Interactive, Environmental Mixed-Technology Robotic System for Enhancing Children's Picture-book Reading. In Proceedings of IDC 2013: the International Conference on Interaction Design and Children, June 24-27, New York.

A feature in the Huffington Post (April 29, 2015), linked to our new video.
A feature in The State newspaper.

Code for LIT ROOM (zip file)

LIT ROOM top of page

kids having free fun