My original idea the hiking hack was a very practical, very serious soil testing shoe attachment, but my brain took a direction 180° from my initial thoughts – finger puppets! What could be more practical and serious than finger puppets, right?
Although finger puppets may not seem utilitarian, potentially they can serve an educational purpose, enhance cognitive development, stimulate creativity, and increase finger dexterity. Kid wearables are an area that hasn’t been explored much beyond child-tracking safety devices. They offer an interesting opportunity to capitalize on younger generations’ affinity for technology in order to address what Richard Louv has deemed “nature deficit disorder.”
With the help of my more technically inclined teammates, I created finger puppets that light up, make noise, and vibrate. They can be stimuli for interacting with wildlife or characters for fanciful play. For my presentation to the hiking hack team, the puppets became a flashing flirtatious firefly, a chirping cicada with “Wilderness Idol” aspirations, a buzzing modern feminist honeybee, and a butterfly searching for greater meaning in life.
Matt and I have even brainstormed about creating interactive books with more kid-friendly themes to accompany interchangeable puppets. Is this the next step for Bug Buddies?