Digital, Product

EF Study Buddy

Study Buddy | 2020

Study Buddy is a next-generation smart speaker that brings English language education to life. Designed specifically for students ages 3 to 6, it delivers content relevant to their language skill level. Based on characters from EF's Small Stars course, Study Buddy lets young learners explore songs, stories, and games in multiple fun ways.


EF EdTech Product Innovation EF EdTech Shanghai EF Global Creative Studio

Increased Exposure to English

Our goal for Study Buddy is a simple one: to deliver an additional five-minutes of meaningful English language practice to students every single day.

Study Buddy quickly builds a safe, one-on-one native learning environment at home to provide students with maximum exposure to the English language.

With a carefully curated selection of immersive play-based activities, Study Buddy aggregates everything kids love in one place. Songs, games, stories, and practice modes, meaning our young learners are encouraged to speak English sooner and with greater frequency.



Course Aligned Content

Study Buddy promises exclusive new content, meticulously developed by our team of academic experts, to perfectly complement the existing Small Stars course.

The smart speaker empowers students to prepare for upcoming classes, letting them practice & review what they learn in school from the comfort of their own home.

With fresh content delivered directly to a device every month at no extra cost, learners can be sure that their Study Buddy will always boast the very latest in learning-related fun.

Study Buddy Design Process

The Study Buddy is an outcome of seven design revisions. We achieved true refinement after a series of improvements on aesthetics, ergonomics, manufacturability and build quality of the device. The design process started before creative work happened. It began with empathizing with the young users and understanding the business objective.

We sketched ideas on the paper and explored the physical form through rapid prototyping and user test. After the first 3D design was built by CAD (Computer-Aided Design) software, we then collaborated the development for the internal structure with the manufacturer on the electronic & mechanical engineering and production process.

A Childproof Product

The product's usability, functionality, and reliability were advanced through a series of prototypes and user tests. During these revisions, we resolved issues like the onboarding flow, illumination for LED indicators, optical quality for the screen, waterproofness, haptic response for buttons, etc. Often, these considerations required negotiation between design intent and engineering limitations.

The practice of Design Thinking helped to create an interface and interactions that are intuitive and pleasant to our young learners. The choice of monochromatic OLED screen component is crucial to deliver timely information and lively eye expression, and to protect kids' eyesight from harmful blue light at the same time. The material choice of medical-grade silicone for the outer sleeve is ideal for kids' comfort and health while achieving a high-quality look and durability for usage. The inner structure is made to be adaptable to other character designs in the future.

Mel, the owl character from Small Stars, is gender-neutral and its squarish body fits nicely with the shape of the speaker, so it made the first choice among the Small Stars characters.