Octo-hugs is a huggable plush toy created for children ages 5-8 years old with developmental disabilities to support them in times of frustration - times when they need a soothing hug, something soft to touch, or to hear relaxing sounds.
The toy works through the interaction of a hug. While hugged, Octo-hugs will play soothing ocean sounds, light up, and vibrate lightly. Instead of one hug, the user will get Octo-hugs.
Octo-hugs' idea was first sparked by Bex's girlfriend when she said, "Why don't you make something to help me, something for people with autism!" The creation process for Octo-hugs began with iterations of testing fabrics, stuffing, and interactions with eight legs. The most important aspect to come out of this iterative prototyping and research phase was the simple concept that every child is different. Some kids are going to love to hug an octopus to hear ocean sounds when they are stressed or frustrated, while others might simply want to feel something soft without the addition of noise or haptic feedback.
Throughout this process children were asked to create their own huggable toy and their own huggable octopus. In order for Octo-hugs to be for children, children also had to be involved in the creative process - especially children with developmental disabilities. You can hear more about Bex's experience with user testing in her publication post here.
Octo-hugs was completed with the creation of a website mock up for a customization buying experience. Since the central idea leading Octo-hugs is that all children are different, the site includes a virtual experience for the parent and child to go through and customize their Octo-hugs toy.