Netflix has teamed up with Pittsburgh-based digital agency Deeplocal again to create an open source connected device for the holiday season. No, it's not another pair of socks.
Timed to the release of Fuller House's second season, the agency decided to revive Mr. Bear (Stephanie Tanner's best friend in the original series) and added a glowing heart. When hugged, the bear can connect with another bear in another house (or even another country, according to the video below) and cause its heart to glow red as well.
When both bears are hugged, Netflix automatically turns on in both homes.
Here's what Netflix says about the bear:
Our bears work with a touch of holiday magic and two linked hearts connected via a custom "cuddle" sensor. Hug the first bear and he calls his pair, causing both bears' hearts to slowly pulse. When the bear's buddy is squeezed, both hearts glow brightly and blink three times, turning on Netflix in both locations. The code and hardware for our Connected Mr. Bear is open source and available on GitHub.
Our Mr. Bear comes from North American Bear Company, the original manufacturers of Mr. Bear in the '80s. You can create your own connected "bears" using any of your favorite stuffed animals, because what really makes these bears special is what's inside.
Our bears have a custom sensor made with conductive foam pads that registers hugs, cuddles, snuggles, and squeezes. We have also sewn a special enclosure into each bear that's filled with a cellular-connected microcontroller, battery and IR LEDs (for starting Netflix). The bears' illuminating hearts are 3D-printed and embedded with LEDs.
If you're not interested in or tech savvy enough to make the bears yourself, Deeplocal and Netflix are giving away a pair of bears today on Pop Sugar's Live Holiday Gift Show.
The effort is fun, if a bit odd. What's clear is that Netflix is looking for physical ways to promote its brand and to tie that to the release of new shows. Just last week it dropped a candle tied to the Gilmore Girls revival.
Does it do much for the Netflix brand? Who knows. But the ideas are cute.