Reinventing the
Camera for Kids

Digital photography has made point-and-shoot faster and easier than ever - so easy that even technologically savvy tots can pick up a smartphone and know exactly how to snap a shot.

But since a parent’s expensive and slick phone is hardly the ideal plaything to put into young hands that are still developing fine motor skills, we had to ask: what kind of camera would be ideal for this new young subset of photographers?

Observing children at play with cameras brought three key learnings to the foreground:

1. Both cameras and smartphones are hard for kids to hold. A finger often ends up over the lens and shots come out blurry as they try to find a steady grip in small hands. In an all-too-frequent worst-case scenario, expensive electronics get dropped and damaged.

2. Kids’ possessions lead a rough life; they get squashed under books in backpacks, toted around playgrounds full of sand, mud, and gravel, and tossed carelessly into bins, drawers, and lockers. Items are easily misplaced or damaged.

3. Children just don’t take photos the same way that adults do. Adults think of photography as a tool for sharing and reminiscing; they take photos of their friends, family, and even of good meals for the express purpose of sharing their experiences with others, and coming back to them later and enjoying the memory. Kids, on the other hand, are more fixated on the here and now; rather than thinking about the future, they enjoy the spontaneity of creation – living in the moment and thinking of the camera as a plaything for now rather than a tool for down the road. They want access to their camera on a whim when the mood strikes.

The Bean Takes Shape

The kernels of the final design came together from several early concepts, which included bulbous ergonomic forms, handles, and open areas for inserting lanyards or hanging the camera from hooks. But the game-changing element was the addition of the iconic carabineer clip, which aided in solving a variety of the project’s challenges.

First and foremost, it eloquently solved the problem of loss and damage. Now able to quickly clip onto belt loops, backpacks, and even binders, the camera became substantially easier to keep track of and keep safe. Paired with the rounded form – which by now had earned the moniker Bean – the clip also became an easy handle for small fingers. While the rounded body itself presented additional engineering challenges as internals had to be carefully rearranged, the shape’s benefit to the user was just too good to pass up.

The Bean has seen runaway success in the market for children, and — as a happy surprise — it's caught on with grown-ups as well. Adults with active, outdoor lifestyles have embraced it as a portable and affordable choice while hiking, biking, and camping.

Warm Reception

In addition to a warm reception from consumers, the Bean has been honored with exceptional critical recognition. We were particularly proud to see the Bean win the prestigious IDEA Award and grace the cover of Appliance Design Magazine's annual Excellence in Design issue.

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