BeakBox is a project developed as a part of our internal innovation program where staff members are encouraged to come up with creative project ideas and pursue the best ones.
The objective of the BeakBox project was to create a unique and innovative solution for pet birds. We aimed to design a smart bird toy that would provide cognitive stimulation and entertainment for birds when they are alone in their cages. The toy needed to be versatile, suitable for a variety of bird species, and easy to attach to different types of cages. The electronic and software components needed to be designed to ensure that the sound is played upon bird interaction.
The current market for bird toys is lacking in options that truly engage a bird’s cognitive abilities and too often contain materials that can be dangerous if ingested. We recognised this problem and set out to design a solution that combines advanced hardware, firmware, and mechanics to create a bird toy that is both stimulating and safe for birds to use. Our research was focused on finding ways to enhance a bird’s cognitive development while also ensuring that the materials used in the toy do not pose a health risk.
Our initial design concept for the BeakBox was a weight-activated perch that would act as a lever and connect to a microcontroller and speaker. However, after consulting with the bird-specialist, we pivoted to a design that included a switch or lever for the parrot to manipulate with its beak.
We prototyped the BeakBox using a Raspberry Pi 2, speaker, switch, plastic enclosure and USB power source. After testing the prototype with parrots and their owners, we identified several issues such as the prototype being bulky and hard to install, parrots having trouble initially pressing the lever down, and the prototype having small holes and exposed wires that were accessible to the birds.
We continued to iterate on the BeakBox design, developing five main prototypes over the course of a year, each one making advancements on the previous model. Our focus was on making the device easy for pet owners to use and install, designing the lever ergonomically so that it is easy for a bird to manipulate with its beak, and making the BeakBox more bird-friendly by keeping the cage-facing side of the box blank and removing any small holes or exposed wires.
Through a systematic and iterative design process, we successfully developed the BeakBox, a revolutionary bird toy that provides cognitive stimulation for pet parrots while being safe and easy to use. The BeakBox allows parrots to manipulate a lever with their beaks to control their own music, providing a unique and interactive experience for the bird.
Our research and development efforts paid off, as the BeakBox is now available on the market as a successful product. The success of this project highlights the importance of considering animal behavior and needs in the design process, as well as the value of an iterative approach in overcoming technological and scientific uncertainties.