Designing for penguins

Designing for animals, I discovered, is everything but simple. From ethical questions to design methods, the challenges encountered are multiple. At the same time though, it feels like being an explorer of unknown territories.
During this one-week-long project, a lo-fi prototype of a toy for Magellanic penguins living in the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California have been created. The design is inspired by the sensory perception of penguins: their eyesight is excellent and they can see low wavelengths of blue, green, and violet, both underwater and on land. The design consist of cubes that light up in different colors when touched or dragged by the penguins. A magnet on each face of the cube make it possible to attached them together. In this case the light change behavior: rather then lighting up when touched, the cubes change color when spinning.
The project represents a very first step in the design process. Further development would include a water-proof prototype to test the concept with penguins.

Project by Carlos Mario Rodríguez Perdomo, Erica Coria, Rebecca Goettert and Sena Çerçi, from the Master’s Programme in Interaction Design at Malmö University, 2016.