In this article we will talk about an analog STEAM toy project with a digital core for approaching children to art invented by an English start-up. Let’s start by saying that it is scientifically proven that art is good for children. Probably not new, “I always say!” you will think, but the proof of our assumptions comes from the University of Arkansas that has carried out a thorough research on a large sample of children exposed to works of art. The results show that those who have visited museums or are used to the observation of works of art develop different “soft skills” including a greater educational memory and critical thinking skills.
The story of Pixel Press starts with a group of friends who was no more satisfied with just playing video games, so begin designing them. So far nothing exciting, indeed probably the majority of companies in the industry were born in this way; the difference is that Pixel Press has done so in a ‘disruptive’ way: it has made the design and creation of video games for everyone, even for a child, creating a toy to learn design thinking.
Once upon a time there was Niamh Barnes, a 7-year-old girl treated in an English hospital. One day she suggested to doctors and nurses to find a system to support the little patients, to distract them and go with them during their stay in the wards. That desire by Niamh is now reality in Alder Hey’s pediatric hospital in Liverpool that introduced Alder Play, an app created to help kids during therapies that combines Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence for a better hospital experience.
Nowadays robotics and Artificial Intellingence are daily topics mainly because of the great progress achieved in the last years. These matters touch each of us more and more closely, just think of the attention aroused by Sophia, the first woman-robot to have received citizenship in Saudi Arabia. Also the toy world is obviously an active participant in the discussion and this is demonstrated by the large quantity of products that aim to develop the ‘skills of the future’ in children: first of all that of coding. Matatalab is one of these toys, a robot to teach coding born in March 2017 and which is already doubling the required goal of its first Kickstarter campaign.
Teaching coding to new generations is one of the trend topics nowadays. There are so many toys developed over the last few years that explore this topic, and are more or less effective in presenting educational solutions appropriate for various age groups. In this buzz stand out LEGO Boost, a kit to teach coding to future adults.
Innovation moves fast in educational design and, moreoften than not, winks to cultural and technological trends. It has been understood by Fisher Price, the toys and kid’s products company with a 85-years history behind, which few months ago launched a ‘communication challenge’ with the video ‘The future of parenting’, or rather the future of toy design in six key points.
Who has never used playdough to create strange three-headed monsters or a dream car? It has been a masterpiece of the toy world since the beginning of 1990 and remained almost unchanged till nowadays. Colored or fluo, homemade or industrial, this magical substance has always fascinated children and adults up to be used by sculptors for their first plastic models or even win two Oscars in the animation with Wallace & Gromit shorts. A toy company has brought to an even higher level this material, by designing a kit for teaching electronics through playdough.
To talk about Design for All means approaching design for human diversity, social inclusion and equality. Skoog promises inclusion through music and embodies totally these values: apparently just a soft cube with five semi-spheres on the 5 visible faces, actually an innovative and performing musical interface that hides unexpected applications.