Seldom do you see a toy that is a golden example of great interaction design, innovation, and education, all in one seamless package. Based loosely on tamagotchis, the Urban Canary is a toy doll that stays healthy in a non-polluted environment, and ‘falls sick’ when exposed to polluted air. Designed as a toy that aims to not just teach children about air pollution but immediately condition them to empathize with the toy when it falls sick in a polluted environment (therefore wanting what’s best for the toy and the environment), the Urban Canary comes with a sensor for a face, and a color-changing LED that goes from green to red, depending on how clean or polluted the air is. This links with an app that tells you how much polluted air you (and the canary) have experienced today. The only way to cure the canary is to let it breathe fresh air, so that its ‘lungs’ may purify and it may feel better.
The Urban Canary was a finalist at the Fast Company Exist ‘World Changing Ideas’ Award 2017, and rightfully so, with the way it helps teach a child to be caring and compassionate towards the environment, and to others… through a toy!