Edwin the duck is connected
February 2016 – We received the long awaited Edwin the Duck toy to test in our media lab. The toy is designed to be a companion toy for children from a few months old to about age 5-6. It is designed as a modern electronic friend that adds functions as the child grows. Edwin is slightly heavier than a standard rubber duck due to the internal electronics but is very soft, can be chewed on by a baby, and rests / recharges on a charging base that is shaped like a nest.
Designed for iOS and soon to be supported by Android devices, the multi-featured duck brings a large number of capabilities besides being able to float. These include: a thermometer function, an internal rechargeable battery, a nightlight, a multi-color LED, white noise generator, Bluetooth connectivity with an internal speaker, motion sensor & gyroscope, touch sensors, and 2-way communication to a mobile device. At this time, all the hardware is enabled and fully integrated into Edwin, however, as it is in the early stages of the product release, and the building of the development community, the applications to use all the features are still in progress.
More than just a toy, Edwin is a platform. The 2-way communication enables the Edwin to participate in story time. This is the ability to be an interactive control device for games and learning stories that run on the mobile devices. The motion of the duck – rotation, movement up and down, turning or flipping it can be mimicked in the game, as can reactive sounds send to the internal speaker from the mobile device. At this time there is only 1 game available, but more are in progress.
The duck has lighting and sound on the toy, as well as response and action that is possible on the screen – this allows for age specific content – and developmentally advancing skills to be introduced to the content to make Edwin, not only a bath & bed toy, but a learning product. Edwin comes in a full standalone box with the charging nest, USB charging cable and wall transformer.
The product was able to be registered on the network easily and synced without issue to an iOS device. The visual indicator that the device is charging and charged is the light behind the heart symbol on the front. The nightlight is a very soothing mid brightness yellow light – the yellow shade is from an internal while LED lighting the head of the duck.
The whitenoise generator can be a bit loud if you are close to it, but it is a good volume about 1-2 feet away. At this time the software for the thermometer function is not available as yet. The plan it is can threshold detect and notify the mobile device and have a visual/audible alert if bath water is too hot or can be used on the child’s forehead to report a temperature value in case of illness. We are not sure of the accuracy of the thermometer function; however most components targeted for this use in the consumer space, are +/- 0.2oF .
The price point as a baby toy in the $100 MSRP range is on the high side for the functionality it has today. However, getting the product as a multi-year companion toy to create bonding with the child, and add parent and educational functions as they develop can push the buy decision to being more positive.
Edwin is available from multiple on-line and traditional retail stores as well as directly from Pi Labs a the Edwin the duck website.