Swedish designer Andreas Lindahl, who also happens to work for Spotify, decided to bring the popular music service into the hands of young children with a friendly toy bear—and with his coworker Pär Johansson, who took on the hardware and coding, he was able to take on the job independently from start to finish. Spotibear may just be a fledgling experiment but it looks sleek and attractive as well as safe for young children.
To prototype the product, Lindahl and Johansson started with hand-drawn and Illustrator sketches but used Strata 3D to design how they wanted the bear to look, as well as the individual pieces for its limbs (numbering up to six for the arms). Everything was then printed on a MakerBot Replicator 2. It was then that they realized they would need to use threaded inserts for the joints as opposed to screws with taps. The body consists of four pieces, which had to be sanded after printing to get their smooth look (Tamiya spray paint and primer helped as well).
Lindahl and Johansson used a Raspberry Pi B+ to bring the physical workings of the toy to life, running Spotify through the Spotify client spopd. A lithium battery with charger is included as well. The components were mounted with zip ties instead of screws because the creators found it easier.
The collaborators had the most trouble with the front piece of the toy, which is quite complex with its speaker and holes for buttons. They ended up having to print the speaker hole piece separately and use plastic filler to attach it. The buttons and a micro USB for charging polished everything off.
As 3DPrint.com points out, "Often it’s the relaxing little side project that wasn’t meant to be anything other than an experimental one-off that turns into quite the surprising hit." An iPhone app that's in development will allow users to connect their Spotify accounts and assign certain playlists to buttons—and then we'll see about the future.