CEO and founder, Danielle Cosio, started Lil' Labmates after an unsuccessful search for science-themed toys for her newborn baby. This is when she realized there was a market gap for science-themed toys focused on early development. Lil' Labmates has received seed funding and support from: MIT Sandbox Innovation Fund, MIT VMS, and Murrelet Innovation.
Lil’ Labmates was founded on three values: environmentally friendly, developmentally enriching, and socially responsible. Toys are carefully designed to support babies in reaching early development milestones.
The vision is to take traditional Montessori-style toys and apply an innovative science twist. Toy concepts are modeled after common lab tools, simple machines, and simplified high-level science concepts.
The C. elegans is used as a model organism for fast iterations of genetic research. This was the reference for the Worm Stacker.
Simple and classic; the gear. Still used in countless mechanical applications. This was the reference for the Gear Teether.
The micro-pipette is a tool used in science labs for high precision measurment of liquids. This was the reference for the Pipette Rattle.
My role is to prototype toy concepts via 3D modeling and rendering. I apply user-centered design strategies to develop products that are engaging, appropriate, safe, and that provide a delightful experience. As the designer, I communicate with the CEO and COO regarding design decisions. Sketches and prototypes are reviewed and approved by the CEO.
Our first project was to redesign the classic baby-block stacker. The C. elegans has both an interesting shape and highly educational context. Qualities baked into the design
This is the initial sketch for the gear teether. To properly mimic gears, this toy includes functional melding of the gear teeth.
The Pipette Rattle requires a balance between size and functionality. It must look appropriate, yet still resemble a scientific tool.
Babies and toddlers are a challenging, but interesting target user because we can't get verbal feedback during testing. Testing involves optimizing 3D models for 3D printing and watching our users engage with the toys. Research includes studying the latest trends and taking note of important toy safety regulations.
3D printing was used for rapid prototyping and preparing for user testing. 3D modeling involved optimizing toys for printing and manufacturing.
For testing and research we observed babies/ toddlers interact with our toys. We then asked for parent feedback.
After testing I prepared each design for 3D printing by editing any issues discovered during testing. Some examples were: uneven teething textures, tight-fitting stacker, or fracture points on long/ thin toy pieces. Below are the results, photographed in real science settings.
The final version of the Worm Stacker is a modern stacker toy featuring stimulating curves and an entertaining stacking + nesting puzzle. Each worm is fun to hold and provides varying levels of difficulty for several baby learning stages.
The gear teether is the perfect beginner toy for a baby. They can practice holding objects at a midline of sight and they can soothe the itching of growing their first set of teeth. The gears also make a fantastic fidget toy for older kids + adults.
The Pipette Rattle is a complex toy featuring a rattle and a mechanical button that uses a spring and inner textures to create a pleasant scraching sounds when pushed into the toy. Babie love interacting with the button, perfect for teaching cause + effect.
Be sure to follow Lil' Labmates' success at their website: Lillabmates.com
Below are images from the Lil' Labmates website, all photographed and curated by the CEO, Danielle Orozco. These are the 3D printed toys and the most recent iterations as featured on the Lil' Labmates shop.
I am currently working on preparing our top 3 products for manufacturing by editing CAD models. In addition, I am designing visuals for sets of baby contrast cards and other branding/ marketing materials.
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