Babypod is a critical design project on overprotective parenting. It fetishizes the concept of overprotecting children by showing parents how far this mindset can go with a real-life product. I was selected to present this project to Emily Carr University’s end of the year Health Design Lab Showcase.
There has been a clear societal change with how children are raised in the 21st century. The world is advertised as a more dangerous place for children than it was ever before in the media, which results in the parents being overprotective. This project fetishizes the concept of overprotecting children by showing parents how far can this mindset go with a real life product.
What is Critical Design?
Gillian Russel introduces critical design as a specific design practice aimed at materializing questions around alternative visions and ways of life. I am inspired by this form of thinking a lot because it pushes me as a designer to question why we consumer behaviour under capitalism.
Babypod is a crib for new babies that provides a womb-like experience. The surface idea is babies sleeping better if they are in an environment that mimics a womb. On a more critical side, the idea of having a pseudo-womb crib that’ll trick the baby into thinking they were never born just so they can sleep better is a creepy idea. The concept also triggers parenting methods around overprotecting the child and not letting them fully adapt to the real world.
Inspired by Black Mirror’s Arkangel episode, the application for the BabyPod takes the concept of overprotecting further and allows the parent to make certain changes on the baby. BabyPod challenges a lot of ethical and moral issues from interfering with baby’s dreams to changing their genetic makeup. However, this experience isn’t for the baby. The final deliverable is a product demo showcasing the product.
My research involved interviewing parents on their parenting habits and looking at current precedents that already has the same womb-like concept for the crib. The methods I used during this process was conducting primary and secondary research, created personas, rapid prototyping and iterations, and A/B testing for the UI.
With the application the parent can have a God-like presence to the baby’s life and their future. However, like most applications you would have to pay more if you want more. Buy Premium concept is what makes the application addicting since you can do so much more with your child - just like playing a video game. The final outcome turned out to be a trailer that fetishized the concept of overprotective parenting with a product that addressed new parents’ anxiety by taking the solutions further.
The product demo explores the idea of overprotective parenting by familiarizing the parent with the technology rather than their own child. It shows a gamified approach to having a parental experience where the goal is to keep your baby happy and improve them as much as you can (as you see fit). At the end of the short film the parent is obsessed with the product as she buys premium content to make her baby perfect.