As a parent, there’s nothing like having the ability to connect with your child while you’re away from home. Smart toy maker, Empath Interactive, recognized the value of these connections and designed a toy that would allow parents to engage, communicate, and nurture their children from afar, without needing to give their children a smartphone or computer.
Empath’s first product, ELFKINS, is a communications robot that transmits voice messages from parents to their kids, and vice versa, while bringing those messages to life with personalized animations, gestures, and emotions. This smart toy is designed to keep loved ones connected through a screen-free, secure, and fun robot, whether near or far. To bring this product to life, Empath approached Mindtribe for support with the overall mechanical design.
Mindtribe was responsible for defining the initial mechanical architecture, including mechanism design, drive-train, enclosures, and motor integration. Mindtribe worked closely with Empath’s team to quickly incorporate feedback and establish the toy’s core features and animatronic behaviors.
Leveraging a “build less, faster” mentality, Mindtribe led the product exploration by combining analytical and empirical approaches to developing prototypes – tearing down current interactive products and analyzing their mechanisms and manufacturing methods. The team’s mechanical efforts included the design of cams, linkages, cable assemblies, and gear-trains to produce over 300 motion combinations using only five motors.
Mindtribe’s redesign of the integrated mechanical system became the foundation for the finalized toy, leading to the successful launch of the ELFKINS robot.