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Noisy Nest 

Products Studio III

Fall 2023 

When given an open prompt for a month long project, I wanted to pick something I was going to have fun with. 

My goal: develop a toy or device that taught children about their local wildlife.

Birds Render with color_edited.jpg

I thought about things that got me outside as a kid and a lot of it had to do with wildlife, weather it was a local Audubon activity, catching things from the local stream or collecting leaves. 

I fondly remember being part of the frog watching society, where, for community service hours, we would listen to frog calls and document their calls in our local area. This inspired me to think about nature sounds, and I thought a tool to learn the frog calls would an admirable exploration. This soon evolved into birds, which had more variation and relevancy. 

My greatest fear in this project was to make something that replaced real life experience.

I was concerned that by making any sort of toy I would be taking away from the real life experience and imagination that comes from just going outdoors, so I decided on focusing on education instead.

A Learning device for bird songs, promoting awareness of local wildlife


Concept:  Have a speaker and a collection of bird figurines. The collection of birds would correspond to your local region. Once you place the bird figure on the speaker, the speaker would play it's call or song.

The device would associate the physical appearance of the bird to its sound. 

The object could be placed semi permanently on a coffee table or shelf to be used by the whole household, as to learn and appreciate birds together.


For the device body, I was iterating on several different concepts as you can see in my sketches.

The first was a speaker box with a place of the birds on the side.

 The second was something the imitated a nest.

The third was a combination of both, taking inspiration from a nest but in a less literal sense. The asymmetry also allowed for more room for components like the speaker opening or interaction buttons. 

After deciding on a direction and making a few foam modules to determine scale, I moved into Solidworks to iterate on details. 

My interaction concept was as follows: 

  1. Place the bird on the nest 

  2. [The nest would recognize what bird it was via a RFID insert]

  3. Press one of the buttons on the nest 

  4. [The nest would play a track of the bird] 

  5. Pressing either the left or right button would cycle through different tracks for the given bird 

It was important to think about multiple tracks because no bird has just one voice

At this point in my iterations I decided it was best to have one button. If the button is pressed again while playing a track it will simply play the next track for that bird. 

DRAWING all the nest.jpg

I used 3D prints of each milestone in order to get a better sense of the scale and details. for, instance I realized the feet needed to be taller, The space for the bird needed to be deeper and the buttons larger. 

The Final Model

DRAWING all the nest.jpg

For fabrication, I prototyped a few birds in insulation foam and then carved the finals out of tooling board. I decided to focus on specific details for identification such as 

  • head and body proportions 

  • tail shape.

  • beak shape.

  • shoulder position, and wing line. 

I decided that with these features and coloring each bird would be distinguishable, and comparative to its real counterpart. 

I was really excited about designing the bird sculptures for the device.  I decided on choosing three common feeder birds I was familiar with as a proof of concept and a stylistic key for all the birds.

I chose the chickadee, robin and cardinal. These three birds showed a diversity of form and encompassed the general size range of the birds I wanted to feature with my device. 

IMG_0680 edit1_edited.jpg

For proof of concept, I decided to make a small Arduino prototype of the simple interaction including a RFID scanner. 

RFID tag 

Each bird had their own RFID identity, and with a scanner I was able to code the speaker to play the right track based on it. Having this prototype was an effective means of communicating my concept to other people. If given more time I would have loved to make a functional grey modal as well.

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