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.
How to fight the surplus of technology during kids days? How to avoid all the time they spent in front of a tablet? How to make the moment of play both active and educational? These could be three of many questions that the designers at frog asked themselves in developing Yibu, a wooden toy set to approach technology.
Nowadays the implementation of technology into medical environment is an hot topic, like the one of collaboration between robotics and toy design to service disability. There are plenty of case studies to demonstrate how progress in these fields is run by enlightened minds and by project teams made by people with different and sometimes opposite backgrounds. Most of times, exactly for this reason, they reach unexpected results.
We live in a world where technology breakthrough run fast, so we asked ourselves how toy designers can use technology to educate. New technologies for the users change, and often simplify, the way in which we approach our daily reality and not only. Among many sectors involved there’s also the education: school is slowly leaving its skin made out of books, exams and memorization to wear the one of new ways of teaching, often based on learning by doing.