For years I thought it would be fun to embed a smart assistant like Siri or Alexa into a plush toy like Teddy Ruxpin so a child can converse endlessly with a character they enjoy. However I was not comfortable with all the electronics that would be inside the plush toy, or the upkeep that would be needed (like charging the battery or cleaning the plush toy).
I feel it would be best if all of the electronics were completely separated from the plush toy, and placed in a walkie-talkie that the child can interact with. The plush toy would be holding a walkie-talkie too, but it would have no electronics, it is just a prop. The battery, speaker, microphone — everything needed to engage with a smart assistant is in the main walkie-talkie.
As for the smart assistant, I’m not sure if Siri or Alexa can be given the helium treatment to sound like Elmo, or if the character’s voice actor would need to record new dialogue, but either way the voice is a very important feature for this toy, it is the main selling point after all.
Ideally a child can have entire conversations with Elmo, play games, or even be quizzed for an educational aspect. The sky’s the limit with smart assistants, although this one would need parental controls obviously.
Besides the volume knob this doesn’t have any moving parts. The “spinning” is made possible by embedding an e-ink screen (like those seen on a Kindle) into the record label. The end result is kind of an illusion, if you can look past the thicker record.
This could be a Bluetooth speaker or Personal Assistant (Alexa/Siri), and would be compact in size. The speaker is located in the base. The display could juggle artists and songs, but it would probably be easier to display the current app, such as Spotify or Apple Music. The metal spindle is pegged into a glass cover that overlays the display. E-ink displays don’t suffer burn-in so the spinning image can always be active when the device is. And lastly E-ink displays are available in full-color too.
Here is another design using Heads-Up Display technology (more on that here), a personal assistant based on the mirror from Snow White. This was inspired by a recent episode of Black Mirror that featured an interactive toy with an emotive face. Why isn’t there a personal assistant with an animated face?
Continue reading ➞ Mirror Mirror Personal Assistant
The Magic 8-Ball is a toy that people interacted with much like they would with today’s personal assistants Alexa or Siri; they asked questions, the 8-Ball provided answers, albeit random ones. Amazon’s Echo Spot devices inspired me to draw up this design.
Continue reading ➞ Magic 8-Ball Personal Assistant
Amazon recently announced several new Alexa devices so I thought I would make one that is inspired by Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, at least the one seen in the movie (which used voice commands for queries). I sort of got carried away and made 5 devices in one package, see below.
Continue reading ➞ Hitchhiker’s Guide Amazon Alexa Design
The Echo Show is an Alexa assistant with a display, and I think the killer app for this device is game shows like Jeopardy where Alexa serves as the host. Alexa can display the game, narrate questions, listen for answers, and keep track of score.
Continue reading ➞ Alexa The Game Show Host
Amazon recently released the Echo Show, an Alexa assistant with a built-in screen that displays information on demand. If Apple were to release a similar product, they can do no worse than making it look like an 80’s Macintosh computer. Nostalgia is all the rage these days, see the NES Classic or C64 Mini.
Continue reading ➞ Apple Siri Screen