How Kids2's VP of Experience Design Gets Inspiration for Future Toy and Baby Product Design
I attend the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) show every year without fail and this will be my 17th year of viewing the many miles of consumer electronics products on display. General admission grants you access to multiple convention halls, but the best stuff in tech is always reserved for private showings that are typically found inside the best hotel suites on the strip. This is where only a select few (under NDA) get to see the newest tech that’s three or more years in the future. Leading technology companies and well-funded startups will spare no expense to dazzle you with a cool demo.
As interesting as it is to see the new stuff, we’re not likely to adopt these ‘bleeding edge’ technologies, but it is important for us to know what’s on the horizon. Once a few big volume players adopt the latest technology, these expensive components and modules rapidly plummet in price. Once these new technologies are commoditized, we can then use these enabling technologies to add more value and features to our existing line of products and/or create whole new product categories. Building a matrix of modular technologies is a primary focus for this year and I’ll be tapping into my network of design and development connections while at the show.
Many of my industry friends are fascinated by what we do here at Kids2. Questions about what it’s like to design toys and gear are often asked, including do we have a giant piano like the one Tom Hanks played in the movie “Big” (We do, - a giant Magic Touch™ Piano). However, questions about the technologies inside our toys and gear rarely surface. In many respects, that’s a good thing because we don’t want the technologies inside our products to be top of mind. If we do our jobs well, the technology that enables a great user experience should reside faithfully in the background. This is an important point because as adults, the purchase decisions we make are often driven by the quality of the user experience. Not just the design aesthetics, but how well the physical design seamlessly merges with the user interface. And when a tech brand doesn’t get it right, most adults must simply figure things out or find a suitable workaround. Neither is a viable option on a toy, and that toy could possibly be your child’s first experience with a digital interface.
Whether we’re building products that simplify parenting, designing a new joyful toy experience for your baby or inspiring curiosity and cognitive development in a child, many technologies are in play. To grow upon this expanding need, we’ve added a world-class manufacturer of consumer electronics to our portfolio of manufacturing partners. We’ve already committed to building our first connected wireless product with this new vendor. Unfortunately, I can’t share any details about the products we’re still developing, but look for Kids2 to expand its products and services with connected products in health and wellness, sleep and soothing, learning & curiosity, safety and well-being for parents and children. These technologies don’t necessarily have to include microchips or batteries. Sometimes the tech is embedded in the materials, like new high-tech breathable fabrics that are ultra-durable and easy to clean. We’re also exploring green materials for a cleaner environment. Look for this trend to continue as the next generation of conscious consumers are seeking products that are more sustainable.
Our first biomimicry product, which was derived by algorithms found in nature, is slated to come to market in 2020. The net result is a product that is naturally beautiful and ergonomically functional. We’re excited to bring more tech-enabled products to market in 2020 and in the years to follow. We’re already geared up to harness all the potential we need to grow our market share in this connected economy, while never losing sight of all the joyful experiences that define our brands.
Kids2 is a global company that designs solutions to help early-stage parents and families create tiny wins that build bright futures. The Kids2™ brand portfolio includes the leading infant, baby, and toddler brands Baby Einstein®, Bright Starts®, and Ingenuity®. Headquartered in Atlanta, Kids2 spans globally with 12 offices on four continents serving customers in more than 90 countries and has been inventing and reinventing baby products for 50 years. Led by CEO Ryan Gunnigle, it operates with an agile start-up approach, which fosters the company’s growing success.