I was fortunate to have the wonderful opportunity to work with the MindScribe team to help develop soft user interfaces for their work. I did this project as independent study for a semester working on tactile fabrication. Some goals for the user interface were low cost and using local animals for educational setting.
“MindScribe is on a mission to help young children tell their stories. We use puppets and talking stuffed animals to ask kids questions about their 2D & 3D creations. By creating and sharing their stories, children grow their skills and their connections with the world. And through their stories, caregivers learn how to better support incredible, individual growth”
This project was entered into the openIDEO Early Childhood Innovation Challenge and will be presented at HRI 2018 in Chicago and IUI ACM 2018 in Tokyo, Japan.
- stuffed animal from a secondhand store ($2)
- Fabri-Tac (fabric glue)
- Seam ripper
- Zipper or velcro
- Needle and thread
- Clothes Pins
Step one: find a suitable subject..
I checked the local Goodwill first to see what I might be able to find.
I was able to get these guys for $2 apiece, and chose to start with a few different body shapes and sizes to see what might work best.
Step 2: Wash and Prep
Make sure to wash the toy, especially if it is pre-owned.
open a seam and remove stuffing
wash with laundry detergent
hang to dry
Step 3: Making the pocket:
There are several ways to do this. I sewed some of them and created some just using fabric glue. The glue option is quicker and more approachable for anyone who doesn’t have a sewing machine on hand. This is simple construction and doesn’t have to look pretty since it is going to be inside the stuffed animal. The purpose is to make it easy to get the phone in and out and to keep the stuffing from escaping.
pin one side of zipper
fold and pin other side
sew along the zipper
sew the ends shut
This guy is pretty small, and only smaller phones would fit inside so didn’t work for everyone, but with a small phone, he stands up really well because he can sit in the tripod position.
This guy presented a bit of a challenge because he can’t stand up on his own, so I added a skeleton by bending a wire coat hanger to fit in his feet and tail to create a triangle base and then up in a big loop in his head.
The look on this one’s face is just too cute. I took a different approach to adding a pocket to this one. Instead of a zipper, I decided to see if Velcro would work as a closure option. Additionally, because this one has a larger body than the others, I made the pocket opening horizontal instead of vertical.
first of all, I took some of the stuffing out of the bottom and packed it into the feet to create a more stable base
Then made and opening under the chin
and installed the pocket
first with fabric glue for good contact
then adding stitches for better durability
The phone slides in perfectly, but the rabbit friend seems concerned…
This bear is another example of the tripod position where the animal sits with it’s front feet between their back feet which adds some stability so the furry friend doesn’t fall over when a phone is inside it.