Smart Toy Range

Product, UX, Industrial
Summer 2020
A range of children's products designed to facilitate good habits.
As children grow into adolescence, their motor skill and cognitive development skyrocket with the help of their parents. However, the child faces a struggle with their feelings of independence and exploration versus the guidance and structure given by their caregivers.

Research into broad child behaviours reveal two mindsets that broadly define insights into blending guidance with freedom and exploration; achieving both user's goals and wants.

Our solution is powered by this ideology and offshoots into four different products with their own context. My particular focus is within the washroom, enhancing the experience of dental hygiene.
Ideation, Prototyping
CAD Modelling, Rendering
Nick Reeder,
Ryan Potter,
Geoffrey Thompson,
Paco Lui
Adobe XD/CC, Fusion 360,
Keyshot, Miro.
3 months
Our objective was to create a set of tools for children set in blue-sky opportunities. Instead of focusing on a specific user goal, we wanted to ask broad questions to define our scope:
How might we instruct without being too real or overbearing?
Children become irritated when they can't get the independence they want, so how could we guide without encroaching on their feelings?
How might we integrate a product into a child's normal, comfortable routine?
Once taken away from a routine children find comfortable, their response is one of discomfort and negativity. A product needs to fit seamlessly, like a fun toy.
How might a product guide parents towards positively influencing their child?
Parents come from all different backgrounds. A product needs to emphasize and appeal to an aspect children enjoy, so the parents can emulate the same appeal.
How might we use competitiveness to drive healthy progression?
With gamification, it has been proven children respond positively and achieve tasks more effectively. How can a product use this in a healthy manner?
I primarily focused on Tobu, Uzu's toothbrush toy for children. This case study will cover that.
What is Uzu?
Fostering good habits can be a challenge; Uzu contextualizes habits into fun and rewarding tasks- utilizing the child's imagination to immerse them in many worlds.
The Design Process
Discover → Define → Develop → Deliver
Our team split up into different contexts children find themselves in - the bathroom, education, play, and travel - in order to gather a vast variety of data. We interviewed children to get a sense of their behaviour and desires in those contexts:
Children like to do educational things they are good at.
Reading books or solving math; children find themselves more motivated when they are good at it.
Children prefer adventurous escapes through digital or nature-based means.
A game or biking through a park are part of exploring and enjoying the world as an experience.
Children are attracted to immersion, sound and visual playing a large role.
A love for movie and games mean children prefer their lifestyle be stimulated through immersive audio and visual experiences.
Rewarding experiences are important to get children to achieve tasks.
Even something as simple as a shower requires play, or else children find it annoying to begrudgingly slog through daily tasks without rewarding experiences.
Secondary Research
In accompanying the interviews, secondary research provided further elaboration on certain use cases for children. Whether through health, travel, the bathroom, or natural play, we uncovered more insights:
Playing in nature is beneficial for children, known as nature-based-play.
Interaction with nature-inspired objects and nature is essential for healthy social and mental development in children.

Our solution benefits from emulation of nature and natural objects.
Sleep is important to the child's development.
Encouraging sleep is important to the child's health, linked to social and educational development. A routine can be the first step to developing this healthy habit.

A solution that enforces a habit or routine, especially in the sector of sleep, contributes to healthy development in the child.
Progression is part of the rewarding experience for a child.
Social norms, gamification, and a sense of progression prove to help children brush their teeth properly; children around 3-9 act "fussy" when parents instruct them, wanting independence.

A product vision should include gamification and elements to inspire the user to stay on their goals, but to also be fun along the way.
There are two broad ranges of children mindsets: experimental and goal-oriented.
Children can fit into an experimental or goal-oriented mindset; the former emphasizes physical movement and auditory stimulation, and the latter loves visualization and achieving goals.

Our design should accompany these two mindsets when generating a product solution.
Connecting the data
After research, we organized them into a board and move them around. We linked our topics in control groups - areas where we felt design can intervene and change to provide opportunities, based on our research insights. This leads to the questions we framed our design challenge with.
How might we drive a child to be more experimental or goal-oriented?
How might we use competitiveness to drive progression?
How might we communicate instruction to a child without being too overbearing?
How might we integrate a product into a child's normal, comfortable routine?
How might a product guide parents from diverse upbringings towards positive child behaviour?
At the end of discovering and defining...
We found insights toward questions that define the vision of Uzu; prompting how a product can integrate in a child's lifestyle.
Discover → Define → Develop → Deliver
With our questions, we began developing tangible iterations through drawings. Our first approach relied on quickly sketching ideas from all four of our members - through Crazy Eights, ideas were evaluated abstractly and on the potential they hold:
Converting into sketches
We began to convert their sketches into refined ideas - fleshing them out through paper, and then digitizing them through digital sketching. Both stages proved useful to defining these ideas. These are all my sketches below:
Specializing into bathroom tools
After these general sketches, we began to select our specialized field; I chose the bathroom, inspired by toothbrushes and the user-centric experience for children. Below are detailed refinements:
Proposing the solution: 
In preparation to deliver the proposed solution, one final presentation of our chosen idea were made to encapsulate the entirety of it; design-wise, how it would be implemented, and details. A storyboard of envisioning its usage was also created to provide a realistic scenario.
Tobu, the smart toothbrush:
Tobu's idea is to combine exploration with achievement to incite and engage. Immersed within a digital world, using the toothbrush in different ways rewards the user with thematic objects - from finding a banana in a jungle to finding a rocket on the moon.

The use of a visual screen and audio exploration by having speakers in a bluetooth-connected toothbrush allow flexibility and encourages exploration for the user.

With the nature of rewarding objects, progression is tracked by how much is collected - the more objects collected, the more the user knows they are doing a great job!
At the end of development...
An expansion on sketches and focus helped realize an idea that could be developed as one of the toys in Uzu's range.
Discover → Define → Develop → Deliver
Approval of our ideas meant we can carry it out into the 3D space. CAD modelling provides an accurate count to iterate and provide a realistic prototype. Due to the pandemic, we were limited in 3D printing our models for testing, but instead we protoyped using foam and cut-outs.
Refining the Model
With measurements and preliminary reference, modelling can begin on a high-level; replicating the sketch and adding new forms to help make the product look more visually appealing.
Result - Uzu (Tobu)
In Uzu's bathroom line, Tobu seeks to combine exploration with clear goals; using its treasure hunting game to engage and change the act of brushing into an enjoyable one.
How the design uses the opportunities
For all types of children:
By creating the idea of brushing one's teeth as an adventure, nature-based and technological play come together - children of both behaviours observed from research can find it fun! Progression and visuals appeal to both dimensions.
Parent and Child Dynamic:
Even if parents have different upbringings, Tobu uses the parent's participation alone as a way to facilitate good habits - just by simply playing the game together, the child and parent both brush their teeth healthily with fun!
How the game uses the opportunities
Visual, Auditory, and Engaging:
The idea of a tooth map, combined with visual collection, offers implicit instructions to explore everywhere to brush your teeth. As part of this game, the instructions are implied, easy to learn, and won't annoy children into frustration!
Competitive Family Multiplayer:
With connection to multiple brush heads and a scoring-type game, collecting more and rare treasure can be a friendly competition; encouraging further engagement with the healthy habit of brushing one's teeth!
Takeaway & Reflection
Uzu is a highly believable technical package. Combined with the renders, it has an amazing amount of believability. However, there is always room to improve:

Technology Expansion: While Tobu uses the parent's mobile device to help them manage adventures, children now are also in charge of simplified digital devices - and this can be used as an advantage to further immerse them and get into the habit of healthy dental hygiene.

User Testing / Ergonomics / A Living Prototype: The pandemic has cut us off from being able to fully test these out - for example, Monash University had intended to let students 3D print their models to fully showcase the items and to test ergonomics and user behaviour. If this can be done, Tobu and the entire Uzu line can undergo massive change and improvement.

Tobu and Uzu as a whole has shown that cross-communication between countries to make beautiful products is possible, and the future opportunities and goals is still boundless to attempt.

It was great to collaborate with the many professors and friends along the way at Monash University. To my Australian colleagues, you were the best; until we meet again!