The Challenge

Create a cutting-edge experience that reduces the fear of hospital stays.

Hospitals can be scary. Sharp needles and huge machines can especially terrify kids. Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center wanted to reduce fear and give kids the confidence that they can do anything before they undergo a scary procedure or surgery. They presented us with the challenge of creating a cutting-edge, digital experience to do just that.

The Insight

Getting kids up and moving to help them go home quicker.

We decided to leverage their familiar Toughlings characters in an exciting, interactive way to speed up their healing and make it more fun. With the goal of getting kids up and moving, we knew that Microsoft Kinect would be the perfect digital solution.

The Ideation

Introducing the virtual sea creature who replaces tears with smiles.

Elbo the octopus (one of the Toughlings) is a virtual sea creature who puts pediatric patients at ease during their hospital stays. We found that bringing him to life through gesture recognition could bring even more comfort to the patients, while motivating them to get active and build their strength and ability to fight.



During a tough time, we reminded kids that you don't have to be big to be strong.

The Development

Refining Microsoft Kinect movements, one gesture at a time.

Kids don't have patience for glitchy tech, so our developers spent days standing in front of the camera repeating the same motions over and over. We had to ensure each gesture would be perfectly recognized when a child acted it out or they'd lose interest. 

The Solution

The interactive game helps reassure kids that they are strong and capable of anything.

Using the Kinect camera, Elbo guides kids through a short series of stretches and leads them through simple exercises. By getting kids moving, the game is helping them heal faster. It's also a confidence booster, as Elbo reassures the kids that they’re capable of anything. His last instruction prompts them to show off their muscles in a flex, reminding them how strong they are.

The Outcome

Using the Toughlings, we made hospital visits a little less tough.

The award-winning Toughlings experience not only helps children move again, it physically helps them get closer to going home. We know that inside the hospital walls, children are faced with tough days and difficult procedures, but Elbo helps replace tears with smiles and proved to be a stretch in the right direction.

Dropping Some Data


Hours spent refining and testing gestures


Awards won (AdClub CT and CADC)


Number of Toughlings limbs brought to life (Elbo, the octopus, has 7 legs but he doesn't let that slow him down!)


Number of Microsoft Kinect unique poses