Housewares win for WMU Product Designer

Pip the Potty Pal rendering of a small, molded dinosaur toy. Made with PVC-free Polypropylene, internal components are stainless steel to prevent rusting.

Product Design student Isabella Waite returned from the 2021 International Housewares Association show in Chicago with a third place prize of $1,200 for her project, “Pip the Potty Pal” where she competed against universities from across the country.

“The IHA competition gave me the opportunity to experience the entire design process”, says Isabella,” My creation of Pip is definitely the most extensive project I’ve worked on during my time at the Richmond Institute. Even after submitting my project, the process is continuing, as I will hopefully bring Pip to market”

Isabella Waite standing outside. The IHA design competition has valued the importance of student design work for the last 25 years in the hopes of making a greater generation of competitive and innovative designers. With over 170 individuals participating from 36 universities in the United States in last year’s event, the competition was sure to inspire some truly fantastic work. This is proven by Isabella’s dedication and her truly remarkable achievement.

 The award-winning product concept “Pip the Potty Pal” assists small children in learning how to use the bathroom and teaches proper potty training habits. The toy acts as a timer for the child to notify them when to use the bathroom and then subsequently rewards them with a fun instructional cartoon that makes going to the bathroom a worthy break from playtime. 

When asked about the main problem Isabella set out to fix with this device she answered, “While conducting research for my project, I discovered two main issues in the potty training process. The first issue is that children do not want to take breaks from playing to go to the bathroom. The second issue is that parents often have a difficult time keeping track of when their child last went to the bathroom and when to remind them to go again. Pip the Potty Pal helps solve these problems”

Not only did Isabella create the concept of Pip, but also built the toy herself so she could effectively gather useful information and insight from parents who were currently potty training their child to ensure the toy’s effectiveness. After putting it to use they agreed that Pip was successful. They found that Isabella’s idea was effective, as well as easy. Because their child alreaday wanted to bring toys to the bathroom, it wasn’t difficult to convince him to use the bathroom when we had a special toy to bring with him. He even seemed to look forward to it, asking, “Can you bring Pip back for me to play with?”

Isabella was delighted to gain feedback from the family so that it may help other households in the future, “Testing my product was a really fun experience … I think it is really cool that something I designed might be able to impact the lives of parents and children.”