Cute and Cuddly
A first year bachelor project for the Department of Industrial Design at the Faculty of Technology Eindhoven.
This project focussed on designing a new twist to a cuddly toy for girls between the age of 8 and 12. The toy’s goal was to create an emotional bond with the target group by using interactive technologies.
The final version of the cuddly toy incorporated a iconic shape and size; a ball-shaped body with a small tail. Besides 2 large eyes, the cuddly toy sports a very soft fur which is unable to resist touching. The prototype has the integrated hard drive needle and exterior amplifier and audio connection.
The intended use of Miko is situated around the many sensors under the skin. The beat of the heart is based on the way the product is held, moved and angled. This communicates the coherent emotion towards the user. Furthermore, when at ease, Miko can act as a relaxation product. Mimicking the same feeling of lying on a parents chest, the slow heartbeat will aid in the child’s tranquility and maybe even sleepiness.
Beat of the Heart
The first step in creating this connection dealt with finding an emotion to display. Instead of working with the most common display of emotions, the face, our group decided to center on the heart. More specifically, the heartbeat. Our concept used to beat of the heart to display the cuddly toy’s emotions. When aroused, the heart beat would rise in frequency. When relaxed, the heart beat would slow down.
Instead of merely using audio equipment to present the heart beat, a more creative approach was used. The needle of a hard drive was adapted to vibrate in accordance with the audio file of a heart beat.
Encapsulated in rubber, this resulted in many tiny vibrations which created the necessary sound, and also the larger movements that produced a motion of the chest. A first prototype of this technique was utilized in a pillow to test its effects on the target group. This proved to be a succesful step, and a final prototype was constructed.
The Project Team
completed in: June, 2004
time spent on project: 6 cuddly weeks
stakeholders: Rolf Pixley of Anomalous Research Amsterdam and Department of Industrial Design