Interactive soft toys let babies
post to Facebook

New Born Fame by Laura Cornet

Dutch Design Week 2014: Design Academy Eindhoven graduate Laura Cornet has created a set of toys that allow infants to upload their own photos, videos, locations and activities to social media before they're old enough to use a computer.

Laura Cornet has designed a collection of soft toys that includes a mobile, a clip, a ball and a pair of shoes.

Each captures visual information or data, activated using simple gestures that can be carried out by a very young child, and automatically uploads it to a social network.

Cornet came up with the idea for the New Born Fame project after her own Facebook feed became increasingly inundated with photos of her friends' babies, which she wasn't entirely comfortable with.

New Born Fame by Laura Cornet

"I thought it was weird to be involved in the life of someone, who doesn't even know that I have seen everything in his life already," said Cornet. "And the baby couldn't make a choice to maybe not show me."

She began asking these friends and acquaintances about why they posted photos and reports on their kids' progress onto sites like Facebook.

"At first, I talked to people whose babies were in my timeline, but later on I talked to friends of friends, who also had babies and who had spread the word on my project," Cornet said. "I also talked to a few parents who absolutely didn't put anything online, to get an idea of the other side as well."

New Born Fame by Laura Cornet

Some were very defensive about their right to post photos of their children onto social media sites.

Their justifications included that their accounts were private so that only friends could see the images, that Facebook wouldn't do anything with the photos and that they believed that their friends want to see, comment and "like" the updates.

"But then when I mentioned if they asked the kid for permission, a few already started questioning," explained Cornet. "All of the people replied that I was right about asking that."

New Born Fame by Laura Cornet

To stir debate about this issue, Cornet decided to put the control in the baby's hands and created a set of toys that the he or she could use to "put themselves online".

A mobile of soft hanging items, shaped like birds, a camera and a Facebook logo, incorporates a sensor-activated camera that films the baby from above.

New Born Fame by Laura Cornet

When the child reaches up, the camera records a short video then automatically uploads it to a linked-up Facebook page.

A round clip that looks like a clown's face posts its location to the same online profile when squeezed, using a GPS signal.

By turning a small ball, the baby takes a photograph of themselves that is also automatically uploaded with a randomly generated caption.

New Born Fame by Laura Cornet

Finally, a pair of shoes work as an activity-tracking device – monitoring the wearer's movements and sharing the captured data.

"I've positioned it really as a statement to show to those parents who put everything online that the problem isn't privacy anymore, it is much broader," said Cornet.

"It raises the question: 'who owns the right to put a baby on the internet like that?'. I question if the mother or father in this case actually should be the ones to decide."

New Born Fame by Laura Cornet

The tools aim to plainly demonstrate that an infant has no idea that it is providing information about itself to an audience, in the same way as when a parent does it for them.

"If you show it like this, people say: 'the baby doesn't know what he's doing, it is awful that it just puts everything online'. But when a mother does the same thing, it is suddenly accepted; while the baby has no say in that."

Due to the response she has received since the project was exhibited at the Design Academy Eindhoven show last week, Cornet wants to develop the toys further but remove the automatic sharing function.

  • Facebook’s 101

    Babies using Facebook? #Myfirstselfie sums up all that is wrong with social media.

  • Chava984

    Is she joking? “Ask their permission”? Does she think this should also apply to people carrying 20 baby photos around in their wallet to show/give people? And what does “giving permission” mean to a child? I guess we should be waiting until they’re 18 to give their baby pictures to grandma and grandpa! Hope they live long enough to see those cute pictures of them eating cake on their 1st birthday. Uh oh, I wonder if my dog is going to be offended, I just posted those pictures of him rolling in dirt.

    Look, I get it. Some people go crazy with the baby pictures on FB. Some people are habitual “over-sharers” who have no qualms with posting a thousand baby pictures a day as well as every meal they’ve ever had. It’s beyond annoying. But there’s the perfect solution… unfriend them! Or block them from your news feed! But to suggest that people who post several pictures of their kids on FB with ample security measures taken are wrong to do so is ridiculous! I’m assuming anything that remotely resembles child abuse would be pulled and reported by FB, so why the concern about what baby pictures are being posted? New parents are excited and want to share their excitement with their friends. Let’s not over-dramatise the situation by giving infants a camera so we can say “AHA! SEE!?”. That’s just grade A d-bag behavior.

    • Rafael Reyes

      Methinks the designer is looking for drama in a non-issue in order to elevate a pretty straightforward concept.

  • Inche

    This is just sick. Adults and not to even mention nowadays youth is already overly addicted to those, why ruin babies? That means also zero privacy, while they don’t even realise that.

  • Melbournite

    File under ‘signs of the apocalypse’.

  • light bulb

    This is a comment on people’s behaviour regarding social networks and privacy. If you can’t see that this is for conversation and reflection, you are probably a person who posts images of their baby and what you ate for lunch.

    • Melbourneite

      Agreed this project is a thought experiment, but the issue is it’s not a very good one. It’s OK for the public to point that out.

    • Cat

      But I don’t agree with her message. Who cares if her friends are posting baby pictures. What’s the difference between getting a baby’s permission and getting a 10-year-old’s permission? People passed their kids picture around the office before Facebook. If you don’t like what your friends are posting, just unfriend them! I don’t see much of a reason for outrage here.

  • fbiswatching

    The same people angry with toys enabling babies to use Facebook are currently posting angry comments to Facebook. Hilarious.

  • NSA approved.

  • Tom

    This is the worst idea I have seen on Dezeen. I apologise for my bluntness but I have to say something.

  • Allan

    Read the text. It is a sociocritical project to provoke the brainwork.

  • McFlyyy

    “But when a mother does the same thing, it is suddenly accepted; while the baby has no say in that.” What about when a toy does the same thing? What’s the baby’s say?