Animatoys at the Tinkering Zone

Kidsdesignweek 2015 Milan

Kidsdesignweek was proposed this year for the first time during Milan’s Salone del Mobile 2015, with designers working around children and their world.

The Museo della Scienza e delle Tecnologia Leonardo da Vinci was the perfect locations for such a dedicated week and it was meant to celebrate the designers who took up the challenge of designing innovative and creative things for children, looking at things from the children’s perspective.

 

Within the dedicated events, a special one took place: Animatoys. Can you Give New Life to a Toy? Play with Technology.

 

The event was located in the brand new Tinkering Zone of the Museum, opened for the first time last September during the European Researchers’ Night, a permanent lab dedicated to tinkering, making, engineering and design. It’s an interactive area meant to propose a different way of experimenting science and technology coupled with design and creativity.

In this special area, at the ground floor of the museum, everyone, adults and children, can interactively take part into science oriented activities that don’t need any previous experience or knowledge.

You just need to accept the challenge and make something. The lab works closely with the Exploratorium in San Francisco and it’s the first one in Europe.

Now back to the Kidsdesignweek and Animatoys: the activity was a challenge for designers wishing to experiment Arduino related technologies.

The first thing they were requested to do was to bring with them a toy or to choose one and dissect it, to see how it’s really made, how it works, explore its mechanisms.

This took some time, of course, as they didn’t want to destroy it, but to dismount it carefully to be able to work on it afterwards and transform it into an Animatoy.

 

Arduino_Tinkering_Zone

 

Arduino_Tinkering_Zone

 

The second step was to listen to a presentation/lesson held by Professor Maximiliano Romero, Physical Computing Laboratory, Design Department of the Politecnico di Milano, supported by the “al 29” collective of designers specializing in design and prototyping of interactive systems.

 

He explained simply and clearly how to work in the Arduino environment and how to use some sensors and a shield to program the toy to become and Animatoy, an animated toy.

 

Arduino_Tinkering_Zone

 

The Audience was really attentive, since for many of them it was the first time with an Arduino: they might be very experienced designers, but many had never used something to animate directly the object they designed, therefore they really paid attention, like being back in school classes:

 

Arduino_Tinkering_Zone

 

Arduino_Tinkering_Zone

 

Arduino_Tinkering_Zone

 

After some explanation, the started working with their Arduino boards and putting a shield on top of them:

 

Arduino_Tinkering_Zone

 

Connecting them to their toy parts:

 

Arduino_Tinkering_Zone

 

 

Arduino_Tinkering_Zone

 

Time for some other instructions from Professor Romero, and to experiment with some free animations and music composing on the web, to use later in their Animatoys, with the use of incredibox.com to compose ones’ own music.

 

Arduino_Tinkering_Zone

 

Arduino_Tinkering_Zone

 

Now everybody have got food for thought to start planning and trying the new technologies for animating their old toys. 

 

Arduino_Tinkering_Zone

 

Some brainstorming:

 

Arduino_Tinkering_Zone

 

and then they start coding and rebuilding part of the internal structure of the toy with some wiring:

 

Arduino_Tinkering_Zone

 

And now off they go with the coding bit of it:

 

Arduino_Tinkering_Zone

 

After a break, some more lessons on the Arduino coding and a lot of manual work, here are the end results:

 

Arduino_Tinkering_Zone

 

Arduino_Tinkering_Zone

 

Arduino_Tinkering_Zone

 

Arduino_Tinkering_Zone

 

The end result (video below): 

 

by Silvia Bianchi 

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