AN iPad case that doubles as a teething toy? Yes, such a product exists. It’s known as the Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Apptivity Case (also available for iPods and iPhones) and it sells for $35. It’s well known that children are quick to learn new technology. But 6-month-olds? How did the idea arise for a toy that allows its user to gnaw on its brightly colored handles and drool on its protective screen, while also manipulating apps for counting and singing?
At Fisher-Price, such products result from a process known as spelunking, which in its literal sense means to explore caves. But in the realm of toy making, it refers to the simple act of watching children play.
A similar process is alive and well at other companies, like LeapFrog, maker of the LeapPad, a touchscreen tablet for children as young as 3; and at Hasbro and Crayola, which have partnered with digital media companies to create apps for very young children.
At Fisher-Price, “we bring babies in with their moms and watch them at play with different types of apps, different types of products,” said Deborah Weber, senior manager of infant research. Her job, she said, is to “understand the ages and stages of babies — what they can and can’t do, what their interests are, and the growing needs of families today.”
Read the rest at the New York Times.