Moji is a project I worked on as part of an internship with Austin-based startup Patchr.io. I had the opportunity to work on a personal project that would help both showcase my product design skills and the capabilities of Patchr’s original web-based printed circuit board (PCB) design software. It involved intensive research on the psychological and emotional benefits of what I was creating as well as a significant amount of testing and prototyping. I was able to work on everything including concept, branding/visual identity of the product, building the prototype, and presenting the project as a case study to potential and existing stakeholders.
The result was a cute simulated pet with a simplified minimalistic abstract animal-like appearance, designed to act as an emotionally comforting companion that reciprocates different sensory stimuli with ones of its own.
Moji has a blob-like shape, relaxing array of light patterns, wiggling ears, wagging tail, and haptic and auditory responses to specific types of petting. It’s all intended to help reduce stress, provide comfort, and have a therapeutic effect on its owner. Moji also comes in three different forms, each mimicking popular animals that people would love to have as pets.
Research shows that even simulated animals and pets help teach some of the same social skills real ones do, like improving empathy and productivity. Moji is able to provide people who may not otherwise have the mental and emotional bandwidth, free time, and economic or other resources required to adequately care for a pet the opportunity to reap the benefits of doing so.
This project was under construction during the summer of 2019 with funding and assistance from fellow designers and coworkers at Patchr.io, and while prototypes have been made, a fully functional assembled final version of Moji does not yet exist, but is definitely not too far away.