UPDATE: pi lab announced this week (10/20/2015) that Edwin the Duck is officially shipping to consumers from direct purchases through the Edwin the Duck website. A company official indicated that Edwin will also be available in Best Buy stores and select Apple stores “in a few weeks.”
I remember the first time I opened up an Apple product. It was like nothing else and it felt like Christmas morning, even though I had stood in line for five hours outside of a strip mall in the middle of July. That’s the feeling kids are going to have when they open up Edwin the Duck from pi lab in Indianapolis. And their parents just might feel it too.
Edwin the Duck is an enhanced smart toy and wireless speaker that’s waterproof and floatable. Edwin comes with an iOS/Android app and built-in Bluetooth, so bath time with Edwin has a soundtrack that includes any song on your smartphone.
The makers at pi lab call Edwin a “smart companion” because the accompanying app enables functions conventional toys just don’t have. Edwin alerts you when the water in the bathtub is too hot by changing colors. The app includes animated adventure stories that bring important childhood lessons to life and the stories can be tailored to particular challenges and interests that grow with your child. At bedtime, Edwin plays lullabies or white noise and he also serves as an LED night light. When the lights go out, a green nest recharges his battery while your child sleeps.
pi lab conducted a Kickstarter campaign to support the launch of Edwin the Duck. Though their unassuming offices on Main Street in Carmel are filled what look like perfect prototypes that did everything they are promoting, the first production units aren’t going to ship until sometime in 2015.
pi lab has letters of interest from several major retailers, so it’s likely you’ll see Edwin the Duck in a store near you next year.
“Edwin the Duck creates a whole new product category in the growing world of smart mobile app accessories,” said Matt MacBeth, cofounder and CEO of pi lab.
The team at pi lab includes MacBeth and his cofounder Don Inmon, who also serves as president. Amy Unger is the director of marketing and Alicia Thorson is director of education. It’s a small team that’s bootstrapping Edwin the Duck, but their credentials in product development include millions of units sold and over a million app downloads on the iTunes store.
What are the three most important features of Edwin the Duck?
The most important features of our products in general are creativity, utility, and joy. Specifically for Edwin, it’s difficult to limit this to three. His physical features include floating waterproof Bluetooth speaker with a night-light and white noise machine, paired with a robust app functioning as a storytelling, lullabying best friend for children of all ages.
Edwin the Duck, relieves every day stress parents experience in common routines, including bath time and bedtime, through his features, stories, and songs, allowing these moments to become meaningful and fun. He also educates children and empowers them to overcome common childhood issues.
Can you outline the experience of developing Edwin?
We are a team of four, and three of us have been developing mobile device accessories for many years and launched hundreds of consumer products, while our fourth is an accomplished educator. The industry is ever-changing, which provides a great opportunity for small teams like ours to quickly adapt and get ahead. We see a huge opportunity to make products that leap out of our iPads/tablets and smartphones into real life interactions – and there’s no better way to interact with a great story on your iPad than through a rubber ducky.
Startups often pivot or shift their business models and other major business aspects, did you experience these types of changes?
Yes, we originally had ambitions of launching a much larger range of products, but quickly realized that we needed to zero in on the best idea and show the world that we can do it better than anybody else.