By Beth Carter
Posting in Cities
Product design students at MIT and RISD teamed up to design an innovative stroller device to make being an urban parent just a little bit easier.
Moving a baby around in an urban environment can be a serious challenge. Moms, dads and passers-by have all been part of the struggle. Strollers are just not conducive to city life-- revolving doors, subway stairs, and crowded streets make it tough to maneuver with a baby in tow.
To combat this problem, students at MIT and the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) got together to make a baby-transport device called the BuzzyBaby. It's not entirely a stroller, but instead an innovative sling and shoulder strap that attach to the baby, the stroller, and the parent. This way, the parent can easily carry both the child and the stroller whenever carrying is best.
The BuzzyBaby sling works by snapping in and out of the shoulder frame by way of a pad that was specifically designed to fit into many brands of lightweight strollers. This should be welcome news to parents and sitters alike who are tired of not just stroller wrangling but also being the one who angry commuters are pushing and bumping by while they figure out how to get their child up the stairs.
The BuzzyBaby was designed with all things urban in mind with a special emphasis on the woes of public transport-- stairs, crowds and turnstiles, just to name a few obstacles city dwellers face on a daily basis.
"For urban parents, the stroller is the equivalent of a suburbanite's automobile," said the designers. " It is the vehicle that enables mobility and freedom in day-to-day life for families with young children. But navigating metro rail systems with conventional strollers can be exceedingly taxing -- and dangerous."
The idea came from an MIT product design and development class where students studied footage of the wife and baby of one of their team members, Kin Lo. They watched the classic situations described above-- Lo's wife and son caught in a subway staircase in New York City-- and began to discuss possible design solutions to the problem. Many ideas circulated, but the BuzzyBaby prevailed.
The idea was presented to the class in mid-May, with the next steps being to secure a patent and bring the product to market. Whichever way the idea comes to fruition (as a stand-alone accessory kit, a patent sold to a manufacturer, for example), its designers hope it will become available to the masses by spring of next year.
To make things better, the BuzzyBaby is not only good for parents living in the city, but could potentially help businesses connect with and capitalize on a new population whose needs have largely been brushed aside.
May 29, 2012