28 May 2008
Barry Kudrowitz of MIT Toy Product Design on HighTechFever
I interviewed Barry Kudrowitz, founder & instructor of MIT Toy Product Design class on my HighTechFever TV show tonight. We discussed his latest class which just finished a few weeks ago -- culminating in PLAYsentations! -- and the ten product ideas student came up with, and the broader design and development ethos underlying his efforts generally. (Btw, nice little story in MIT TechTalk last year entitled Toy soldier: At play with Barry Kudrowitz, MIT toy designer) Key factoids: 80% of the students were freshmen thinking about what major to pursue; this was a Mechanical Engineering class... Tomorrow, 7/10 projects are presenting to a real client, the uber-toy company Hasbro. We'll see how many actually productize, of course. But the prospect, the very real chance of commercialization -- of an MIT freshman class project! -- is hugely compelling. In my opinion, not only are toys a fantastically relevant and attractive design challenge, but they embody the harshest design constraints MIT students all need to learn more about -- the hard-core need for extreme usability, ultra low-cost, special ruggedness, extraordinary safety, delight and attractiveness, and more. I suspect, however, that toy design is not perceived as "serious" enough for "real" education at the Institute (nevermind "real" research). But this couldn't be further from the truth: Play-That-Matters and ideation should be front and center and is the ideal rallying theme for a core intro-inspiration class and beyond!