Needfinding, design, manufacturing, and marketing.
You can never predict how creatively (or aggressively) kids might interact with toys.
Remotely inflating plush toys to boost the independence of children.
For my product design capstone project, my partner Paul and I spent two months studying kids who use wheelchairs. A month of interviews with wheelchair users, orthopedic surgeons, occupational therapists, caregivers, and patients with limited mobility led us to an insight: for kids with limited mobility, the feeling of independence is essential. In moments of stress (which can result from pent-up frustration & delays while attempting to navigate daily routines), kids are willing to sacrifice independence for safety or reassurance. So in moments of stress, a little boost of confidence can be really valuable, and is sometimes all it takes to maintain a feeling of independence.
We invented Puff (U.S. patent pending), a plush toy that uses a combination of hidden air pumps and solenoids to remotely inflate, or as we like to say, "fill with love." The remote signal functions over IR or WiFi, allowing Puff to be activated over any distance by a parent or friend. While original designed with the intent of helping kids in wheelchairs, we've realized Puff has alternate use cases, such as connecting parents and kids who are long-distances from each other, or serving as an interactive toy for senior citizens to connect with grandchildren. We presented Puff at Maker Faire in SF and are in the process of distributing it through local toy retailers, working with local soft goods manufacturers in San Francisco.