Exploring Varied Play Interactions for Product-Life Extension in Toys
Toys and play are a fundamental part of children’s lives and development. They grow, learn, and discover new in- terests, so it is natural that their needs as users change along with their growth. However, with the highest plastic -in-product in the consumer goods sector, the toy industry has yet to transition to more sustainable materials and business models that appropriately anticipate these changes. Some manufacturers use renewable materials, but in an increasingly technology-filled world, a gap exists between sustainable and interactive toys, although the latter has become more popular among children. Therefore, this thesis aimed to explore the main research question of:
How can technology promote sustainability in toy design?
In total, five phases of research were conducted to discover potential answers to the research question. The initial phase considered relevant literature on the subject, although sustainability in toys has only recently begun to gain traction in the field of sustainable design. Therefore, a design-thinking workshop was conducted, using established circular business models and technologies to explore how they might be applied to toys. Through the workshop’s ideas and initial concept development, four areas of interest were identified: modularity, circular materials, adaptable content, and reverse logistics. A concept was developed that included these four factors, and the adaptable content was designed to include three types of play that toys can provide children: sensory, fantasy, and challenge. In order to assess the idea’s potential, expert interviews were conducted with parents, followed by two user-tests, the first, with kindergartners and the second, with children between the ages of 5-10. After each phase of research, the concept was adapted based on the identified insights, and a final design and business plan were developed.
Mooboo is an interactive and modular playset that consists of the audiovisual-based Mooboo Station for younger children and the screen-based Mooboo App for older children. Both elements, when used in combination with the physical toys, lead to the extension of the playset’s life. Mooboo is comprised of multiple worlds that can be purchased and combined, based on a specific child’s interests. Additionally, when a child outgrows a world, the box can be sent back to Mooboo, to be either resold or remanufactured. Parents no longer have to choose between sustainable or interactive toys; they can buy Mooboo, a playset that understands and expects children’s interests to change.