MEMALS | baby tango


Interactive toys for children using smart textiles. Created through a residency at District 3.

Memals: Baby tango are a set of textile toys that with the help of smart textile give the illusion of being alive and teach kids the basics of kindness and empathy.


All Memals enjoying being hugged and held. They will show their love as their heart beats and glows. The heart on each Memal is a different pattern related to their personality. Along with their different personalities each Memal also has their favourite colour that sets them apart.


© Concordia University, photo by Lisa Graves

Baby Tango started as a desire from Joanna Berzowska, BFA (design & comp. arts) , an associate professor in Concordia’s Department of Design and Computational Arts and associate dean of research in the Faculty of Fine Arts.


The idea was taken and materialized  through a Residency of District 3. It was the result of an initiative to create electronic textile toys that allow full-body, continuous, and soft tangible interaction. It was created to diverge from the interactive toys on the market, that are mostly  encased in a hard plastic shell, created with simple interaction through the push of buttons or in the other hand, heavily digitalized. Baby Tango textile toys aim to allow for full-body emotional responses such as hugging, caressing, squeezing, or even punching.


The toys were designed as a series of five fictional creatures  with distinct personalities that elicit various emotional reactions in users. The goal was to develop soft, genderless (non-binary), anthropomorphic, interactive creatures that respond to a child’s touch with lights, vibrations and sounds. We looked at many sources of inspiration, including animals, robots, and monsters, and attempted to subvert the traditional genres by creating a more ambiguous family of creatures.


To develop interaction scenarios, we looked at how people of different ages interact with animals, toys, and babies. Inspired by the many instances of hugging, petting, squeezing, holding hands, tickling, and nuzzling, we incorporated elements of those actions into the interaction design of the prototype toys. All the creatures enjoy being hugged and held. They show their love as their heart beats and glows.


We also tested different shapes, texture and sounds by creating prototypes and handed them to children and to their parents. The research and testing of the fissures and materials were key to the development of the final prototypes because it provided us with real insights from the potential users and buyers.





Lue moved to a new city with its family. It is trying to make new friends but it is shy and quiet, so it needs some help. Take it by the hand and bring it somewhere to play and make new friends, it will love it! Intimate contact reminds it of its mom, so you can pet it to call it down and hug it whenever it is afraid.


Lue features touch sensors on its back that responds when pet. With enough contact Lue calms down as it will and lights up its checks with affection. Lue has a pressure sensor within its arm, when its arm is held or swayed it lights up with excitement. Touch sensors on the front and a pressure sensor in the belly senses a hugging interaction.





Mello likes to make everyone laugh and to put a smile on everyone’s face but it gets bored easily. You can get its attention and cheer it up by tickling its feet and belly. All three feet are very ticklish and don’t forget to follow the pattern on its belly to make it laugh. Like Lue and the rest  of its friends, it is a hugger!


Mello features touch sensors on its belly as well as on its back. Tracing the pattern on its belly will tickle Mello and cause it to laugh. Laughter from Mello comes in the form of sound and vibration. Pressure sensors in Mello’s feet also allow for its feet to be tickled and cause him to laugh. You never know how Mello will laugh when you tickle him. When hugging Mello both the belly and back touch sensors will be contacted causing the heart to beat.


The name of the toys was change to BABY TANGO, a name that reflected more the nature of the toy and the interactivity of it. As part of the rebranding, a new logo was created with a colour that reflected the principle chracter of the toy, Mello, and an irregular typography to reflect the fun aspect of the toys.


Along with it, I created a website template for the future stage of the Baby Tango toys.



Joanna Berzowska

Design and Computation Arts

Concordia University

Montreal, QC H3G 1M8, Canada


Alex Mommersteeg

District 3

Concordia University

Montreal, QC H3G 1M8, Canada


Laura Isabel Rosero Grueso

Concordia University

Montreal, QC H3G 1M8, Canada


Eric Ducray

Concordia University

Montreal, QC H3G 1M8, Canada


Michael Patrick Rabo

Concordia University

Montreal, QC H3G 1M8, Canada


Geneviève Moisan


Concordia University

Montreal, QC H3G 1M8, Canada

Reseach Article

Baby Tango: Electronuc Textile Toys for Full-Body Interaction



Concordia News

Researchers have created a smart-textile toy to increase emotional and social development