Play together. Regardless of ability.
Client: Bournemouth University
Disciplines: Engineering, Industrial Design, Material Research, Business Research, Branding, Model-Making, Ergonomics, Trademark Study.
Link to full report: HERE!
Tomobeans are collectible, tradable, low-cost competitive social dice-toys for 6-8 year olds, that are designed to allow even those with limited fine-motor control to operate them (including acquired or congenital limb loss up to, and including, the elbow), allowing a typically underserved demographic to engage in social play with other children using tools that they previously had limited access to.
This is achieved without giving the impression that the toy is even designed for this market, preventing the alienation of able-bodied children from participating, and encouraging cross-ability social-interaction.
Ideation : Just my (proto-)type.
Whilst research and sketching made up the first portion of development, prototyping and model-making was utilised as soon as possible, since ergonomics and mechanical testing was vital.
The product essentially acts like a collectible 'dice' that pops into the air when hit on the top face, and essentially self-rolls, all of which needed to A) work, and B) be able to be 'popped' without the need for two limbs with motor-control.
Ergonomics. Sizing, up to the challenge.
Aside from the more general specifications that my product needed to follow (toy standards such as BS 71-1, etc.), ergonomics was vital to the product. TOMOBEANS needed to be able to held and used by even without hands, or just having less fine-motor control.
Given how many toys and children's products didn't cater for this, I needed to perform a great amount of anthropometric research. Small details included the face-size, the width and diameter of the product suited to being picked up with just elbow joints, even the small divets allowing for better purchase for those with poor muscle-strength in their fingers.
Every dimension needed to be considered.
A bit of character.
The social-aspect of product hinged on the characters of the TOMOBEAN universe. Collectability was a key aspect of the characters, to allow children to discuss and engage with each-other through their own unique collections, probably arguing over which ultra-rare TOMO is the best.
Aesthetically, the design of the TOMOBEANS themselves was heavily influenced by characters from popular childrens-culture over the globe, specifically characters that had universal appeal to all genders, ages etc.