Innovation That Matters

Programmable ball is a throwable computer for kids

Publishing & Media

Hackaball is a hackable toy, combining the fun of physical play with an app that encourages kids to invent and program new games.

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Once upon a time, all kids needed to entertain themselves was a ball to throw about and their own imagination. If the London-based inventors of Hackaball have their way, that time may well be returning. The toy — an interactive, responsive, hackable ball — combines the old school fun of physical play with an iPad app that encourages kids to invent and program games, which they can then play with their friends and siblings.

The Hackaball contains a processor and sensors designed to detect motions such as being dropped, bounced, thrown or shaken. It also houses a gyro, accelerometer, vibration motor, 9 LEDs, rechargeable battery, memory to store sounds and a speaker. Users begin by downloading the iPad app which syncs with the computer wirelessly. The toy comes with several pre-loaded games to get kids started, but once they have mastered them, they can create and program new ones via a simple building block interface. There are lights, colours, sound effects and vibrations to be utilized. The more children play with Hackaball the more features are unlocked.

The ball itself is made from sturdy, translucent plastic, which acts as a shock absorber, protecting the computer within it so kids can play as excitedly and freely as they wish. The ball can even be used as an alarm clock or light.

Hackaball is currently crowdfunding on Kickstarter, where pledgers can pre-order one for USD 69. The creators expect to launch the toy in December 2015. Are there other ways of updating classic toys to combine physical activity with programming fun?



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