MO

Taipei-Every parent will know the joy of watching a baby tentatively crawl across the room, but getting a child to reach this milestone can be tricky.

A designer from Taiwan has created a smart rug - fitted with flashing lights and music - that actively encourages babies to be more active and curious. Called JoyCarpet, the concept was recently crowned one of 12 winners of the second annual Lexus Design Award. JoyCarpet is fitted with LED lights that flash red, blue or green to grab the baby’s attention. It also plays audio noises and short pieces of music that react to a baby’s touch and movement, to encourage them to crawl and play on the rug. A hidden switch beneath the rug lets parents choose between two modes, and JoyCarpet is battery powered to avoid children getting tangled on wires.

The rug is made of soft blanket material on top of an LED light panel, which sits above a sensor and soundboard. Mode 1 is designed for babies who are learning to crawl and a flashing light appears on the rug to encourage the child to move towards it. When the child hits the light, a short musical noise plays. The flashing light then moves to another part of the rug.

In the second mode, which was designed for more competent crawlers, the light moves away as the child approaches it.

The child then has to chase the light around the rug, and music will only play when the child hits it.

JoyCarpet was developed by Taiwanese designer, Meng Ling Yang. Ling Yang said: ‘Curiosity makes us explore the world. ‘We all get improved because of curiosity, including babies. [Babies are] curious to everything and make the most progress during the exploration [in both] brain and body.

‘JoyCarpet makes use of light and sound to provide an interactive experience for babies. ‘Its flashing LED light attracts a baby’s curiosity so it [wants] to crawl to touch the light area. After they reach the area, JoyCarpet plays music as feedback to enhance the joy of the whole experience. ‘According to research, crawling helps a lot for babies’ development both brain and body.’

Prototypes of the concept are expected to be made later this year, but a release date and price  have not been announced yet.

Ling Yang will join other winners, including London-based Ooho designers Rodrigo Garcia Gonzalez, Pierre Paslier and Guillaume Couche, at the Lexus Design Award ceremony on 8 April in Milan.

Ooho is an edible water container made from algae due to go on sale in Boston later this year.