When we first decided to make Phiro, we brainstormed and ideated internally, coming up with funny & funky design ideas, trying to imagine what kids would like in a robot.
We realized that the more effective approach was to create a design, test it out with kids, parents and educators, and learn & improve upon on our ideas. Over 10 months, we slowly evolved the product design of Phiro and we had so much fun during the whole process, so we thought we’d share how the design evolved into the final Phiro that you see.
After talking to kids, parents, teachers and educators, here are some of the things we learned:
- Kids love games and imagining stories. Young girls and boys want to be able to see the applications of robots and what it can do. Kids also get bored easily and like flexibility + variety in their play patterns.
- Teachers want to know if the educational value satisfies different learning levels for different ages and what the higher learning goals are.
- Parents also want to know how this will be helpful for their kid’s future. They also see their children spending time on computing devices and they would rather see this time spent for constructive learning which encourages creativity.
Armed with all this information, we went back to the drawing board.
We designed the internals of the robot based on the electronic components and once we understood the core requirements, we then designed different versions of the external look of Phiro. Given our wide target age range, kids between the ages of 4 to 18, we had to come up with a lot of ideas for different shapes and forms for Phiro’s look. Phiro was designed to be futuristic and personalizable.
To help kids develop creativity and think creatively, we made Phiro so kids can do SO many different things with it and that it allows kids to create their own applications, games and stories. We packed in creative projects into Phiro so kids can make their own music, art, videos, movies, and integrate Phiro into their world of play. We added LEGO® compatibility to Phiro so they can transform Phiro into anything with their endless imagination.
We designed Phiro to be a multi-disciplinary integrator as an educational tool with the goal of learning not only Science, Technology, Engineering, Math but also 21st century life skills such as computational thinking, collaboration, design etc. We provided for Phiro to be programmed in 5 different ways for the different age groups so the robot grows with the child’s skills.
We wanted to ensure young children can use manipulatives and tangible coding with cards and keys to program Phiro, without screen time. Older kids are also able to use their screen time more constructively to learn to code and program Phiro. At the end of the day, educational robots can be fun tools that children play with as they learn.
We love taking inspiration from the animal kingdom. We felt inspired by a powerful and unique creature, the peacock mantis shrimp, so the colors selected for Phiro are based on the peacock mantis shrimp, like this guy below!