What a journey we had! For the past seven months, our team has kept working and improving every single day. We started from late October by not knowing each other at all. During the so-called “Ideation Week-end”, we managed to foster our relationships and team NAPaC was born. Our team-name NAPaC (Not A Pasta Cooker) reflects both our Italian roots in the team (3 members out of six) and the tendency, that we will further explore later on, of never stop brainstorming on possible ideas. We are a team which has always wanted to make the best out of such adventure. How could we ever settle then? That day we eventually left behind us our first idea (a “Pasta Cooker”), but be assured it would not be the only example of not-product in our background.
Urban communities, refugees and kids: how did we get here?
Days began to get shorter while the cold winter approached. This year, however, such signals weren’t only anticipating Christmas. The very first milestone arrived as well! Our first idea was a smart lamp you could use to virtually donate lighting to refugee camps while yours was turned on. We really wanted to make an impact with this adventure. However, the lamp idea, as you know from previous blog-posts, turned out to be the second not-product of our journey. I won’t lie by saying that we didn’t fear to pivot at the time. We decided to completely reposition ourselves while keeping the insights obtained so far. Looking back at it, I think we all enjoyed the new direction of pivot.
The next milestone (a couple of months and university exams later) officially inaugurated our new domain: connecting parents and hospitalized kids with a smart plush toy. Pivoting from an idea (the “refugees lamp”) to a new one (the “smart plush toy”) does not imply restarting everything from the very beginning. On the contrary, we have expanded our vision without forgetting the main positive points we achieved so far. As already mentioned, we all loved engaging ourselves in an impactful project. Moreover, we have been growing a passion for “people connection” that our past project brought (connecting donators and refugees at distant), which perfectly matched our initial assigned topic: “Urban communities”. I won’t lie about how much we all appreciated to work with a plush toy for kids. However, February could not yet be the month of final solutions, as the journey was long ahead of us.
While a smart plush toy was well appreciated, focusing on the hospitalization issue felt, once again, to be too restrictive on a difficult domain. In fact, the idea of a plush toy that can detect when a child cries to alert nurses has a good potential. However, the implementation in such domain requires a very high effort due to the responsibilities in such a sensible context. Why not connecting children and parents then, distant for any sort of reason and duration? We aimed at giving access to young kids the power of communication that new technologies (smartphones for example) brought. On the other hand, we also cared to give kids, already over-exposed to screens, an experience as less intrusive as possible in terms of technology. Could young children benefit from such long-distant and unintrusive connection with their parents?
Here’s to you, Toygether
Have you ever felt like spending more time with your children? Toygether is a plush toy for kids that connects to their parent’s smartphone. It enables parents to interact and play games with their children, even when far apart. Our plush toy features colorful lights and sounds to enhance the playing experience with children from 2 to 5 years old. With ever increasing working days and commute times, parents might have less time to spend with their loved ones. Toygether aims to bridge this gap by providing a screenless interaction platform, enabling young children and parents to play together, even when they can’t physically be together.
Toygether is the perfect project that both merges each team member’s field of interest (Business, Design and Engineering) with the everlasting desire of engaging into an idea that could matter. In the past, we have always tried to enhance the best from each NAPaC team-member while working, and Toygether definitely allowed all of us to be fully engaged. We wanted to be 200% engaged in what development would bring during the months of working together. Fostering long-distance interactions between families have definitely been a touching topic for all of us. Thanks to such setup, the teamwork has shined on the NAPaC group brighter than ever which eventually led us to obtain the prototype presented last Thursday. Our plush toy has many features and many key points we have focused on as our “mantra” of developing during the different stages.
Everything in the toygether system is designed to be simple and intuitive. Children and parents can share moments at distant by playing together in a healthy and safe interaction. The moment is accompanied by colors and sounds, both on the plush toy (thanks to concealed LEDs) and the parent’s application. Your child can play with his/her new toy, and you can enrich the moment by joining him/her wherever you are.
- Interactive | The plush toy and the smartphone app are connected together, allowing user-friendly and meaningful interaction between the parent and the child even at a distance.
- Educational | The plush toy helps to develop all senses of the kid. The sense of touch is awakened with the different materials. The music feature provides a very rich experience for cognitive development. Finally, playing with the toy can help improve memory and coordination.
- Washable | The electronics are easily removable, which allows for washing the outside of the toy.
- Screenless | Z-generation’s children are likely to be over-exposed to screens. Toygether enables parents to stay in touch and play with their kids at a distance without putting a screen in their hands. With Toygether, your children won’t even notice the technology between their hands!
Next? 中国 ！
Five big Milestones have already passed, which brought with them a huge number of unforgettable memories. There have been stressful days as well as enjoyable ones. We surely have enriched our academic year with an incredible experience that taught us a lot of valuable skills, both in our domains of studies and, particularly, in the interdisciplinarity context. We have all joined this edition of CHIC on our own, but trust me when I share with you that we have now grown to be an inseparable group (both in the NAPaC team and the rest of the peers as well).
We are proud to have finally found the perfect project to mark this experience: a smart plush toy to foster interaction between kids and parents (at distant). While writing those lines, I can’t help recalling the huge work each of us accomplished to make this prototype come to life.
However, even though I made these last paragraphs feel like a “goodbye”, our adventure is far from being over. We have reached an impressive moment after five big milestones in Lausanne. On the other hand, the CHIC (China Hardware Innovation Camp) would not be named like so without the trip to China in one month!
As mentioned in the last blog-post, we are ready to leave for 3 amazing weeks between Shenzhen and Hong Kong. The experience will allow us to further improve our work and obtain a working and fully functional product to bring back home. The documents for the VISA have been filled, the flight has been booked and the hotel is waiting for us … July 9th couldn’t be more awaited 😉
But it’s a story for another time. For now, we will focus on the remaining details before taking-off and, of course, handling the upcoming Summer exams session as well. Good luck to everyone!