The future of childhood?

Topobo is "...a 3D constructive assembly system embedded with kinetic memory, the ability to record and playback physical motion. Unique among modeling systems is Topobo’s coincident physical input and output behaviors. By snapping together a combination of Passive (static) and Active (motorized) components, people can quickly assemble dynamic biomorphic forms like animals and skeletons with Topobo, animate those forms by pushing, pulling, and twisting them, and observe the system repeatedly play back those motions. For example, a dog can be constructed and then taught to gesture and walk by twisting its body and legs. The dog will then repeat those movements and walk repeatedly."

Yup. Another wonderful, wacky toy from those endlessly playful folk at the MIT Media Lab. You know - high tech, experimental, looking like a lot of fun, only you can't have it.

This one, the invention of Hayes Solos Raffle and Amanda J. Parkes, seems to border on the exceptional - even for the Media Lab. Don't get too distracted by the exceptionally clear and entertainingly scored video. And don't get confused by all the wires (after all, it's a prototype). Focus rather on how remarkably easy it is to figure out how to make it work. Note how inviting it is. How it makes you want to experiment and fool around just so you can see things locomote. How what you're doing is something very much like programming, but so elegant, so intuitive, that it doesn't matter what else it's like at all at all.

This is not just the future of toys we're seeing. It's a glimpse into the future of childhood.

Thanks for the find, Grow-a-Brain.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Loads and loads and loads of great stuff at the MIT Media Lab; I've enjoyed delving through for a couple of hours today. You could probably write a few weeks of Deep Fun based on their thoughts alone! (...which means that you might well want to be working with the people involved, for I can only joyously imagine what the possibilities might be.)

You very likely know about the Playful Invention and Exploration Network at already, but I provide a link just in case you didn't.


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