2020 Summer, Smart Toy, Electronics, User Experience Design
Duration: 6 Months
Jigsaw is a smart toy containing a physical toy seat and a control system mobile app that enhances children’s sensory development by providing multiple interactive experiences of creating and exploring colors and sounds.
Business needs and user needs
According to the Smart Toys Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report, The global smart toys market size was valued at USD 10.11 billion in 2020 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.5% from 2021 to 2028. The interactive games segment held the largest revenue share of over 85.0% in 2020, owing to the growth of edutainment services and high smartphone penetration. Interactive games are a fun way to learn and explore creative knowledge in a new way. Mainly be used in preschool learning.
The ages 0-4 are the main period of children's sensory growth, with 3-4 years being the most crucial period. During this period, if children receive adequate and practical assistance, their sensory growth processes will be significantly enhanced, and their talents can be well demonstrated.
Although the edutainment smart toy market is large, few products face sensory growth for young children. Schools/institutes still offer the most obtainable way of quality sensory growth education. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted in-person education rapidly, and many children are forced to stay at home because of the quarantine restriction. How can we provide practical and playful experiences?
Combine physical smart toys and education to provide a playful experience for children, encouraging them to create and explore using multiple senses.
Provide parents/guardians with sufficient educational information, let them be a part of this experience, and be able to guide their children's sensory growth.
Jigsaw integrates industrial design, interaction design, and interface design to help children enhance their visual and auditory sensory growth by creating opportunities for collaboration, learning, and creativity while playing with smart toys.
Based on the research of Dr. Shu-Fen Liu, 3-4 years old is the golden period of brain development and sensory growth. Children's brains develop rapidly during this period and have the best neurological compensatory capacity.
The development of sensory growth is the process of children understanding their surroundings and the outside world, and it profoundly impacts children's language skills, memory, perception ability, imagination, and concentration.
Age 12-24 months:
The child begins to have a differentiated response to color and can perceive the presence and change of sound.
Age 24-36 months:
Children can gradually distinguish between the four colors red, yellow, blue, and green, increase sensitivity to sound, and give feedback accordingly.
Age 36-48 months:
Children can correctly identify the four colors: red, yellow, blue, and green. Also, their speed of distinguishing different sounds is accelerated.
Age 48-60 months:
Children begin to develop subtle distinctions between the brightness and saturation of various colors, and their perception of sound gradually becomes settled.
Market Research & Consumer Research
Traditional toys can no longer meet the growing needs of modern children, its competitiveness and attractiveness are being diluted little by little. Introducing and using new design concepts and interaction methods has become an inevitable trend. There is a massive market for intelligent edutainment toys.
Parents of children from zero to four years old are mainly those born between 1985 and 1995. This group has seen an increase in disposable income compared to the last generation; they are generally better educated and willing to spend on their children's education and recreational activities.
In conclusion, a rise in the middle-class population, coupled with a growing preference for educational toys, is driving the demand for smart toys in the market.
Since my cousin is a kindergarten teacher, I had the opportunity to visit three children aged 3 to 4 years old and their parents.
I have a clear design direction by defining the problem that needs to be solved and summarizing the research, interviews, and observations.
Color, sound, physical interaction, and digital interaction are the four keywords in my design. I hope to create a physical smart toy design to connect sound and color and provide a playful experience for children. At the same time, I wanted to combine the physical toy with a mobile app for parents to obtain educational information about sensory growth and to participate in children's play, exploration, and learning.
I came up with several toy designs in the brainstorming process. After considering their level of fun and achievability, I chose the Jigsaw.
Mood Board For Physical Product
I want the physical toy to be soft, smooth, round, and simple in appearance.
I drew many different shapes of cubes in the first phase of the draft, exploring forms that would provide multiple ways to interact with each other.
In the second draft phase, I got inspiration from origami structures and decided to use "press" as the interaction method.
Final Appearance Design
After user testing and feedback, I built the 3D model of Jigsaw in Rhino and used Keyshot to render it.
To implement this project, I wanted the Jigsaw to be more than just a concept design, so I used Arduino and electronic components to create the circuit, and 3D printed the shell of this prototype.
This prototype can implement three basic interactions of Jigsaw. (The current prototype is not yet able to implement Bluetooth connection or Zigbee connection, this will be the next phase of project development.)
After pressing a cube for the first time, the cube continues to emit sound and light. After the second press of this cube, the cube stops emitting light and sound.
This interaction aims to give the child an initial understanding of single colors and sounds.
Two and more cubes.
More than two cubes and be connected by a magnetics terminal. Each cube emits light and sound following the order that it joins the sequence. The purpose of this interaction is to encourage the child to experiment with the matching of colors and sounds.
Cubes and the base
Placing the cubs on the base can turn on the recording function on the Jigsaw application. In this interaction, children can use the base as a canvas and place different cubes as pixels and notes on the base to create patterns and new sounds. Parents can record the entire creative process on their phones using the Jigsaw application.
Mobile Application Wireframing
The application is for the parents. It serves three main functions: managing the status of physical toys, recording the children’s usage process and creation, and gaining knowledge about preschool education.
In this part, users need to provide an account's email address and phone number, as well as basic information about the toy user (the child). The app will adjust the cube's settings and provide relevant preschool education information based on the child's age.
In this part, users can see the usage and the physical toy status, including but not limited to setting, battery, and connection. Depending on the child's age, Jigsaw recommends different color and sound packages. Parents can download these packages.
Recording & Context
In the Recording part, parents will follow the tutorial instructions to complete the connection between the physical toy and the mobile app. After finishing it, parents can record their child's playing process. The recording will be saved as a video and sound file. Parents can edit the video and sound and store the final file in the recording archive. In the Context part, parents can see the early education knowledge about different topics.
UI Design First Iteration
After completing the user flow, I designed the first version of the user interfaces and invited some users to test them. The feedback results of the first version were not very good. 75% of users felt that the visual style of the interface had no connection with the physical toy, and 50% of users said they were looking forward to seeing a more interesting interface design.
UI Mood Board
Based on user feedback, I researched the interface's visual style and found that the Neumorphism style would fit my expectations for jigsaw's mobile interface design.
Firstly, the Neumorphism style simulates the tangible interface that can visually relate to the physical toy. Secondly, using the Neumorphism style and 3D icons could bring a sense of fun to the interface.
On this page, users(parents) can see the usage of the physical toy, including battery status, connection status, and settings, and download the color and sound packages.
On this page, Jigsaw will recommend different levels of color packages depending on the user's age (children). The levels are Junior, Intermediate and Advanced.
On this page, users (parents) can adjust the saturation of the colors recommended by Jigsaw and download the package.
On this page, users (parents) can adjust the volume of the sounds recommended by Jigsaw. and download the package.
On this page, users (parents) can see the number of creations made by their children and the details of each piece and can open a new creation record.
On this page, users (parents) can record the whole process of the children's creation, and 3D AR hands simulate the children's creative movement to add fun to the recording process.
On this page, users (parents) can choose to save, name, edit, and share the recording.
On this page, users (parents) can edit the recording.
Due to the epidemic, I did not find a factory to manufacture my design solution. As the epidemic worsened, I also did not have the opportunity to find children to conduct offline user testing for my final proposal. However, after this project phase ended, I created an interactive art installation to realize my design idea in another way. (Click to view)