Woobi Play is an anti-pollution mask for children that filters at least 95% of dangerous airborne particulate matter (PM). The mask is designed to meet children at eye-level, with a playful, educational approach, and is a bold shot at designing a simple, new typology that transforms a professional mask to fit into a child's universe. Woobi Play comes disassembled and with a manual, encouraging kids and parents to put the parts together themselves, piece by piece, to build the finished product. This helps them to understand the product's functionality and encourages a dialogue on pollution.
Woobi Play is designed with a clear focus on creating a simple solution for kids in need of cleaner air. It uses an approved and certified HEPA filter, which is positioned at the side of the mask and filters at least 95% of airborne particulate matter. Compared to more traditional masks on the market which typically hide the face, Woobi Play's asymmetric design DNA and its translucent, medical-grade silicone structure aims to achieve effective protection while remaining sensitive to the social needs of its users.
The mask comes disassembled with an educational manual. Woobi Play's modular system encourages kids and parents to put the parts together, piece by piece, to build the finished product. The interaction helps them to understand the product's functionality and introduces a dialogue on pollution and protection. Woobi Play has a strong and playful character that not only looks different but also performs better than existing products on the market. The different coloured parts allow kids to customize the mask the way they like it, giving them a sense of ownership and autonomy over their own safety.
Woobi Play is a strategic design solution for the client – a new product typology which opens the door to more market opportunities in the future. Modularity is key, and Woobi Play can be customised and upgraded over time as new parts are released, without users having to replace the whole product when they want to change things. Woobi Play is a solution that can be adapted for different markets and individual users' needs.
According to a recent Unicef report from 2016, more than 300 million children live in areas with the most toxic levels of outdoor air pollution – that means six or more times higher than international guidelines. Children are more susceptible to air pollution than adults, as their lungs, brain and immune system are still developing and their respiratory tracts are more permeable. Young children breathe faster than adults, taking in more air relative to their body weight.
The aim of Woobi Play is to raise parents' awareness, and to help their children develop a new habit of protecting themselves. Our client found through their insights study that kids don't really care about air pollution—only the parents are interested in protection. So the idea with Woobi Play was to involve the children themselves so that the mask would be more interesting to them and they would therefore be more willing to wear it.
We have put a lot of effort into creating a characteristic product that is appealing to kids, while still performing like a regular high-performance mask for adults. Woobi Play is not a toy, but it borrows elements from a child's universe—it looks cool and fun and the translucency and the asymmetric design DNA aims to avoid obscuring the face too much. It has an organic, soft character and strikes a balance between play and protection. The playful aspect of assembling the mask and customising the colours is all about fostering a better understanding of the functionality of the product. It's a playground for personalisation, which adds to the feeling of ownership of the mask. The modularity also means that the mask is part of a system where future developments and upgrades are possible, from playful sticker solutions to even better performance and health improvement.
The main challenge was creating a simple yet unique solution with a compelling functionality that could also be operated easily by kids. Our attempts were based around making the mask appear non-technical, while still aiming for it to perform as well as a professional mask. The whole psychology of understanding what would appeal to kids and how they are motivated has been challenging. It's a complex product, and making it all seem super simple and effortless meant that our client had to 3D scan more than 1000 children of all ages 6-14 to profile their faces.
The key consideration was about providing an ultra-protective and attractive solution for kids. Our client has tested the product on kids in the user group, from the early concepts, throughout the prototyping phases, and then again with the final product. Tests covering overall concept, interaction and fit have provided valuable feedback for us along the way. Fit and usability are the areas where feedback and testing have had the biggest influence in our design.