Several people have been asking us lately: “Why are you working on a new design? The teddy bear looked nice, and it was also something that people easily remembered”
Several different arguments that led us to the decision to try alternative designs. We want to share here the key ones.
1. The current device is much smaller – which means easier to move and transport
Back in February this year, we had just completed our third version of a prototype, and we were finally confident that it was ready to be tested by families. But in order to do so, we needed some practical container that could include all components, without cables going around, or any risk that pieces would be pulled apart.
We hence tried several different solutions, among which the teddy bear proved immediately to be the most practical one. All hardware could easily fit inside the teddy bear The powerbank did fit well inside – and if positioned vertically, it also helped the stability of the teddy bear. And the teddy bear material and light color allowed users to see the colored lights (the solution we were using at that point to provide the feedback to the parents) through the toy “skin”.
It was simply the perfect choice, for that stage of development.
But now we are at very different stage. The recent developments outmodeled the basic needs that made the teddy bear such a practical choice initially.
- We are using a screen now to communicate to parents, replacing the very primitive set of colored lights we were using in the previous versions.
- We are not using a power bank anymore: thanks to all the progresses in the algorithm and the model, the software is much leaner and smoother. The power consumptions are immensively lower compared to 6 months ago (even though the model is much more accurate and advanced), and this enabled us to replace the massive powerbank with a very small battery, similar to the ones used for cellphones
- We don’t have cables going around the device anymore: everything fits nicely in a small, compact device
As a result of these enhancements, current dimensions are completely different, and we can finally move to something smaller, that can be moved around much more easily. Just to give an idea, we could probably fit 5-10 of the new devices, within the teddy bear we were using just 3 months ago.
Smaller, more practical, easier to transport.
2. We listed to the feedbacks from current users
Beta testers (who used the device for the last >6 months) shared an immense volume of useful feedbacks. One of the key feedbacks they constantly shared is that they would have loved to use the device also while going out of their house (e.g. for a walk, or to visit family/friends etc.). But they found it not practical, due to the size and shape of the teddy bear.
We received this comment from pretty much all users, so we made it a key priority for the new version. The new design is is extremely small, completely portable, with a long battery life. It will have also a small hook or grasp to cling it to the cradle, the stroller etc.
Beta users also shared other issues with the teddy bear design. For example, among the several families that tested our device with their newborns, some had an older brother / sister in the age range 2-6 years old. Since the teddy bear looked like a nice peluche, they wanted to have it and play with it. Parents had a hard time explaining them that the teddy bear was not actually a toy, but a device they were not supposed to take or play with.
A new design to address beta users’ feedbacks.
3. The Teddy bear was giving a misguided first impression
The technology we develop uses the latest developments in deep learning and sound recognition, applied to a very specific field. We could not have developed anything like this, just a few years ago. The technology simply didn’t exist. It is, indeed, a very high-tech product.
But the teddy bear doesn’t deliver that message: it doesn’t resemble any level of advanced technology whatsoever, the first time you see it. When introducing the concept to people in these months, I had a hard time – in several occasions – having people realize that inside that sweet, cute teddy bear, there was an advanced technology with years of work and developments behind.
Even among our current users, most of them realized the real value of the product (and that it actually worked) only after they started using it. Indeed, the shape and look of the product didn’t help initially. The rationale was simple: “it looks like a toy, so it must be a toy”.
It’s not a toy, hence should not look like a toy.