The ToyLabs project aims to involve in an active way all beneficiaries (i.e. toy manufacturers and FabLabs) and end users (i.e. parents, childhood experts etc.) to generate or strengthen the sense of “community” in the toy industry. Continuous interactions among them as well as with the project team members are envisioned thus ensuring that stakeholders’ needs and anticipations are efficiently addressed and useful contributions are being offered, because of their communication and collaboration, towards the development of innovative ToyLabs solutions with unique added value. To this end, the Toylabs Methodology, an agile development approach will be followed in combination with continuous cycles of validation to ensure that ToyLabs framework and outputs meet the expectations of all involved stakeholders through the establishment of new, innovative technological solutions and that any updates and feedback gained is effectively incorporated.
ToyLabs’ Overall Methodological Approach can be structured in four main and distinct but highly interdependent phases
These four phases will maintain an open communication channel among each other throughout all stages of the project lifecycle to make sure that they are all promptly and timely informed about the project’ advancements in each phase and that their progress is aligned.
Concept formation and requirements elicitation
This first phase will serve as the backbone of the project, putting in place the project’s foundations on which the rest of the project will be built. In this context, the overall ToyLabs concept will be examined, based on the actual needs of its end users, and the requirements that are posed will be analysed, both in a holistic approach as well as in relation with the pilots’ specific needs. To support requirements elicitation for the pilots, user scenarios will be created encouraging the industrial partners to reflect their actual, “as-is” situation and processes for designing and launching a new toy and their vision and expectations for the future through ToyLabs value proposition. As a next step, the main, common artefacts of ToyLabs methodology will be extracted forming the ToyLabs holistic methodology. The methodology will identify the basic models to be used afterwards for the development of all core technical components. Finally, it is important to set, during this first phase, certain criteria and performance indicators to measure success and innovation impact of the project.
ToyLabs platform development
This phase will deal with the design and development of all methods and specialised ICT components that will constitute ToyLabs value proposition towards innovation in the toy manufacturing industry. Design of the solutions comprises also detailed specifications based on the requirements elicited in the previous phase. Specific focus will be given to the interconnections among the components to establish a functional and modular infrastructure to interconnect all IT parts and facilitate the effective communication of the involved stakeholders.
Testing and evaluation
This phase comprises all activities that should do with the validation of the quality and the assessment of impact of ToyLabs solution. This evaluation phase is twofold, comprising both business as well as technical validation. Business validation is realized through pilot’s execution and testing, where appropriate preparation of the pilots is needed, followed by the execution of the process, as described in the user scenarios, and the evaluation of results, based on the performance indicators set before. Pilot-specific solutions developed during the previous stage will be properly configured by the ToyLabs technical partners to be regulated with each use case scenario defined in WP5. Furthermore, each pilot will oversee reaching end users and experts of the domain (either toy industry experts or people holding useful insights from their close contact with children/toy end-users, such as parents and child psychologists) and involving them in the process. Technical partners are expected to have a supportive role in the task of user involvement.
Market entry preparation
As an IA project, specific attention should be paid to the innovation perspective of the project and the appropriate preparation for the market entry of the ToyLabs solution. ToyLabs encompasses the potential of innovation mainly for SMEs from the toy manufacturing industry, but not exclusively. Firstly, larger toy manufacturers may also find themselves to benefit from and ToyLabs innovative approach. Additionally, ToyLabs enables for FabLabs a new business potential, offering them the opportunity to expand their business operations to new fields. To this end, dissemination, communication and exploitation activities from the very beginning of the project, that will be more intense as the project progresses and produces results, will ensure wide awareness of the project’ results and impact. Together with these activities, a business innovation plan will be developed that will guarantee the sustainability of the project’s solution and will ensure effective and ongoing market replication.
This phase will also deal with the deployment of an appropriate strategy for building a community of loyal users as feedback contributors to the platform. The strategy will explicitly refer to the motivations for participation that should be given to them and the ways and techniques to involve the appropriate stakeholders (i.e. experts of the domain and people holding “wisdom” on children’s needs) and not just regular users. Part of this phase is also to put in place an effective communication and dissemination strategy that will establish wider awareness for the project’s results and their impact.