Robots and magical books for a connected Christmas
Tuesday, 18 December 2012
We already know that Santa Claus is at the cutting edge of M2M technology, but how can connectivity be applied to toys to improve the experience?
When we talk about toys with connectivity we almost immediately think of gaming consoles and very actual devices, such as the Wii U, whose controller uses NFC technology that may not only be used to improve gameplay, but also to enable cashless micropayments and other features.
These relatively new entertainment systems often receive a great deal of attention precisely for their capacity to interact with other systems. But connectivity is also getting into more traditional toys, such as building blocs and construction games.
For instance, Meccano’s Spykee is a robot with Wi-Fi connectivity that can be controlled remotely and programmed to perform surveillance functions, such as emailing the owner a photo if it detects motion in a room, as well as doing other tasks.
A similar approach is being taken by a kickstarter project known as MakeBlocks. It uses Arduino to construct simple (and not-so-simple) robotic creations and automated gizmos that can be programmed interact with the environment and each other.
And if this is too much for younger kids, there is another toy, Cubelets, which consist in magnetic cubes equipped with with sensors and logical orders that can be snapped together to make create robots without programming knowledge or complex building steps.
Of course, the most traditional toys are still as entertaining as they have always been. Nowadays younglings will enjoy pop-up books as their fathers did, but consumer electronic devices can add a level of improvement to this essential toys and learning tools. Thanks to augmented reality, pop-up books become almost magical items that marvel children while teaching them to read.