Beat Blocks is an interactive musical toy that introduces music to children through something they love: building blocks! Starting from the centerpiece of the toy, a child can magnetically attach blocks to form a chain of various tunes and can then enjoy a customized melody with a click of a button.
Beat Blocks was created as a project for MIT's Toy Product Design class. With the help of lectures and instructors, teams were challenged to design innovative toys that would be successful in the market and relate to this year's theme of "surprise."
Knowing the importance of early testing, my team quickly drafted some preliminary prototypes and made a visit to the Boston Children's Museum. We were able to analyze children's reactions and identify key improvement areas for our next prototype.
Prototype 2.0 aimed to develop the main features we envisioned for Beat Blocks. Our team made both "looks-like" and "works-like" models. I worked on the "looks-like" model, particularly on the branding and modeling.
My teammates and I envisioned a brand that gave off a cool, exciting, and slightly edgy vibe. I created the logo and test labels using original typography and graphics. The final designs were printed out on adhesive vinyl.
The blocks required different colors and panel designs in order to indicate musical variations between the blocks. My artistic decisions were based upon children's feedback and what I thought would enhance their musical experiences.
I designed the cube model that included cut-outs for acrylic panels and circular holes for magnetic sensors. As we learned more about how the sensors worked, the magnet positions of the model had to be adjusted before the model could be 3D-printed.
The team presented the final "looks-like" (left) and "works-like" (right) models to several experienced judges. We were able to demonstrate how we wanted Beat Blocks to look like as well as how the lights and sensors worked. The playtesting gave us valuable feedback for how we can improve both the toy's aesthetics and mechanics.
Prototype 3.0 was our final prototype. My role involved design, fabrication, and electrical assembly.
I modeled a new base that would suit the changes we wanted to make and accomodate all other essential features. The next step was to figure out the fabrication process and materials.
After the team gathered all the components for the blocks, I helped to assemble them into the 3D-printed casings. The process involved soldering wires and attaching screws and magnets using conductive glue.
The team's hard work toward Beat Blocks culminated in the class finale: 2.00B PLAYsentations! In front of an audience of all ages, we demonstrated the function and appeal of Beat Blocks through a brief skit and Q&A session as if we were trying to market our product to a company.