It’s difficult to ideate a future that doesn’t involve technology running the show. It’s the inevitable way forward and some designers are getting creative with ways to gear the youth up for it. Smartphones might seem practically as common for a kid these days as the shoes on their feet. The language of cloud services and smart technology is somehow integrated into many children’s daily life, however, the language of mechanical operation is often lost. Sarah Willemart and Matthieu Muller of Studio Fantasio designed their children’s toy, Animate, with OPPO, the smartphone company, in order to provide younger people with a tangible lesson regarding the development of fine motor skills, kinesthetic learning, and the inner workings of electronic systems.
Animate is a creative kit designed for children between the ages of four and eight who want to bring their imagination to life through technological construction. Animate allows children to become both the creators and players of their very own robotic toys. Animate comes with a plethora of electronic and crafty elements including an ultrasonic sensor to keep track of movement, information, and environment, a microphone, two DC motors, a vibrator that jiggles the robot, a battery-operated LED light that plugs into the easy board, and charges by USB-C cables, a set of connectors that work like gears, nuts, and bolts to attach templates and cardboard components, a methodology booklet, and lastly, cables to plug in all the components.
The ultrasonic sensor, vibrator, and DC motors work to bring the robotic creation to life, mobilize it, and make it more dynamic of a toy for children, heightened each of the five senses. Each electronic element was exaggerated in size and color in order to make the construction process more approachable and exciting for children and also to give the electronic robot some character, making it distinguishable against other children’s toys. Additionally, each of the robot’s components and modules can be switched out for one another in order to enhance and diversify interactions between the creator and the finished cardboard-mechanical toy.
The colorful and wacky design of the electronic components offer familiarity for young users and the designers behind Animate chose to implement the use of cardboard in order to further the product’s approachability. By including the use of cardboard, children will learn about and recognize the potential and accessibility of sustainable design and the zany connectors and cables that run through each final electronic design will keep children engaged for years to come.
Designers: Studio Fantasio x OPPO