Laura Ngan


Osmo Little Genius Kit

Designing for Preschoolers

Problem Statement:
When I began at Osmo in 2018, the recommended age for users was 5-12 years old, but there was executive interest in expanding this range to include 3-5 years old. Because a child in this age range learns differently, we needed to develop a new product line specifically for their stage of learning.

The general structure of the games was already in place when I joined the project, but needed a great deal of fine tuning, both in gameplay and in the feel, number, and design of the pieces themselves.

Project Details:
Role: supporting physical product designer
Team: 1 lead physical product designer (internal, Osmo), 2-3 digital designers (partner company Marbotic), + me
Timeline: 6 month internship (2018)

Expose preschoolers to letters, emotions, problem-solving, and counting--all while strengthening their fine motor skills
Develop flexible play pieces that can be used and reused across several digital games
Be mindful of early introduction of technology to younger players to ensure a healthy, productive relationship to the games

Concept definition: Low-fidelity, iterative prototyping ; Weekly observational playtesting at a local preschool
Co-creation partnership: Osmo partnered with French edtech company Marbotic to develop the digital designs and gameplay.

The Little Genius Starter Kit was released in the summer of 2019, and won a National Parenting Product Award that year.

I worked on ABCs, Stories, and what eventually became Counting Town, and the physical game pieces that went alongside them.

Playtesting a variety of concepts and prototypes with end users helped me understand what produced truly compelling gameplay, and I was able to take the insights we gained from testing and incorporate them into the games to gradually create a product that felt substantial, genuinely useful, and thoroughly exciting to play.

Because we were developing a new line of products, it was especially important to understand the economics of the kit. Up to that point, Osmo had been selling the Genius Kit and Creative Kit, both of which were quite popular. This introduction of a new Kit created an emphasis on creating a minimally viable physical presence from a COGS perspective that was balanced by robust, delightful gameplay with the realities of business.

The sum of the physical and digital components far exceeded their parts, something I found quite provocative and have sought out in nearly every opportunity since.