The rubber duck is an iconic toy that seemingly leaves little room for improvement. Yet in the technology-driven present-day even the most classic of toys are being given updates and Edwin the Duck is a fine example of how modern-day technology and long-loved toys can combine to create something truly unique, innovative and wonderful.
Edwin is the world’s first “Smart Duck.” Edwin is an app-connected toy with a personality who guides children of all ages through an animated world of stories, games, songs and learning. Edwin’s adventures invite children to help him solve problems and overcome obstacles that he encounters along the way. Edwin already has some interactive stories available and new tales are in development; the app also includes original sing-a-long songs with animated and interactive features.
Aside from the characterization and branding, Edwin is notable because he is a toy that serves practical purposes too. For instance, Edwin has the capability of lighting up. At night, he emanates a soft glow which makes him an ideal nightlight and he is even programmed to stream a lullaby. Edwin’s Sleepy Time app actually includes white noise sounds, additional lullabies, and timer controls. Moreover, he can sense temperature and can give parents a warning if he perceives bath water to be either too hot or too cold. Additionally, Edwin is a completely waterproof and mold resistant Bluetooth speaker so children can listen to music, stories or messages from loved ones while they are bathing.
Perhaps it is unsurprising that Edwin has so many practical capabilities noting that his inventors at pi lab had successful careers in the consumer electronics field prior to branching out into toys. For instance, Edwin’s creators previously worked on products ranging from cameras to headphones to medical devices. The app version of Edwin connects with the physical Edwin to ensure that there is consistency between the digital Edwin and the physical one–such attention to technical detail is something that the electronics professionals who founded the company are extremely proud of. “Our innovative, exclusive SQUACK™ Technology enables rubber duck Edwin to control animated Edwin within the app through taps, turns, and twists,” explained Matt MacBeth, the CEO of pi lab. “The team at pi lab believes in the power of imagination and we invent product experiences that transform the way children and families learn.” Inspired by the fun and joy discovered from the creative process, pi lab diligently researched every aspect of development pertaining to Edwin. In fact, his name was chosen for its Old English meaning, “faithful friend.”
The elite team at pi lab has already been influential in the toy industry despite only being in operation since 2013. In February 2015, pi lab was nominated for two Mira Awards in the categories of Tech Startup of the Year and Mobile Tech, winning in the Mobile Tech category. The Mira awards recognize excellence, innovation, entrepreneurship, and community commitment across the state of Indiana. In July 2015, pi lab took home the grand prize at Innovation Showcase in Indiana, a networking opportunity featuring the best and the brightest entrepreneurs from across the state. 74 startups, 70 pitches, one winner: Edwin the Duck. At CES 2016, Edwin received the Kids at Play Interactive Innovation Award and was a finalist for Last Gadget Standing. The KAPi awards celebrate the best innovations in children’s media and technology. The awards represent the combined opinion of 14 judges that are experts in multidisciplinary areas including education, media, design, storytelling and technology.
Yet despite all the amazing success they have had thus far, the team at pi lab is determined to do much more to make Edwin a continued success. For instance, although he is currently being sold at Best Buy and in Apple Stores, the company is seeking to branch out to major toy retailers too. Additional stories, apps and animations are being developed and there are plans to release physical toys of other characters too. “Ultimately we would really like to make Edwin a global product,” Matt explained. “Right now he is being sold in North America but we are presently working on introducing him to Europe and Asia as well. Hopefully, he’ll be worldwide and available in numerous languages soon. Hopefully we’ll have a movie one day too.”
Possibly one of the most impressive aspects of pi lab is their collaborative attitude towards their award-winning SQUACK Technology. Instead of monopolizing this program, pi lab is willing and able to license it to other brands and franchises. “SQUACK Technology could be used to bring many other characters to life too,” Matt explained. “We are always open to working with other companies and we can use our technology to help bring their properties to life.”
Edwin is certainly all about innovation–and fun. The age range that this toy appeals to is incredibly wide. He is perfectly appropriate for newborns as well as elementary school children. The website even includes printable coloring books and an “Edwin Adoption Center” to appeal to slightly older fans. To learn more, visit the official Edwin the Duck website.