swimming aid design
2019 - 2022
Design the product that empowers the mission: water safety for all.
I helped start the company from a product design perspective and got the chance to tag along for the adventure in a startup. I was responsible for everything design related up until the technical detailing of the concept.
Let's am-fibby-fy humanity!
Founder Hugo van der Spek was on a mission to help parents overcome the stressful moments when playing with your children at the waterside. He had a vision for what the product should achieve and what the experience should be for both parents and their children. But he needed help with the actualisation of this product.
There used to be a swimming aid that children could wear, like a back pack. This did not live up to today's safety standards. However, this idea you see here had the potential to do so.
this system should stimulate the child to attain a position that allows them to move forward while keeping their head above water and see where they're going
floater + harness
The idea was to have a 'floater', made from EPP foam, that would be able to tilt relative to the child's body by means of a simple harness.
Here you can see a harness that closely resembles a back pack. Both children and parents should recognise this and intuitively understand how to use it.
The floater has to provide 20N of buoyancy, according to the EN 13138 standard. We created a volume of EPP that embodies this desired upward force and shaped it as such that is an unobtrusive object, that allows the child to move freely.
We cut a harness out of a yoga matt and some straps and buckles. The floater was milled from an EPP foam block and assembled together with the harness.
Next we had our first test session with several children of different ages to assess the potential of this tilting system.
Children started to intuitively tread water! But the harness needed improvements to prevent it from sliding upwards.
Test, design, test..
The harness prooved to be the biggest challenge:
how can we make it fit the child's torso, so that the floater can tilt relative to it?
Together with Aukje Peters from Soft Goods design, we developed a neoprene harness that would closely surround the shoulders of the child. This functioned as an anchor for the vest to prevent it from sliding.
We needed several test models to reach the perfect fit for the target age group of 2 to 6 years old.
With the help of agency Everbetter we obtained a brand identity in the form physical form of 'fibby': an amphibious character that is comfortable on land and in water, with its feet and fins. I translated this 2D character into 3D, to make it come alive as a playfull companion for the child.
Fibby now embodies the floatation functionality that helps you stay safe and comfortable in water, without hampering your freedom of movement on land.
from sketch to product
with the help of sculpter Martijn Wegman, we had the identity sketches take form in 3D, which led to the final moulds for the fibby EPP foam floater
tilting swimming aid,
water safety method
Jump in with fibby
Fibby's tilting mechanism puts children in a natural upright position, while they maintain full freedom of movement, cauring them to instinctively tread water
playfully teach your children the fundamentals of saving themselves by adding arm movements to water-treading, eventually without fibby.
The fibby water safety method is developed with the Dutch Don't Drown Foundation
You can do it too!
With in-app videos, fibby provides you and your children with playful guidelines. Distracted by playing, kids won't realize they're swimming more and more on their own.