Long is gone the time when kids’ playtime was made of hoop rolling and Fivestones. Nowadays, to grab their attention, toys need to be battery-powered; either through tablet or smartphone, playtime has gone digital. For the more curious, littlebits, Primo or Kamibot, might do the trick. It is this DIY and IoT space that Tio, freshly launched on Kickstarter, are set to tackle.
As a child I was always making and building toys with my Grandpa. However, I vividly remember that I couldn’t make my toys move without a little help from gravity. So I started thinking, what if there was a magic engine to do that? – Peter, co-founder and inventor of Tio
We met with some of the passionate people behind Tio, and can only share their enthusiasm. They took us through the 2-year-long journey that led to their launch: various iterations of the cube size to find the ideal one, researching the safest and best quality materials, running workshops with children and parents to refine their concept,…
More than delivering a connected product, Tio aim to build a community of young makers, who can share their creations and get help online. Their R&D process is completely driven by user feedback and demand. The kit is deliberately accessible to parents too, and generally made to appeal to all ages. Makers and programmers will also find an interest in it, since an SDK is available to re-program the cubes. Whether you want to make a flying glittery cardboard superhero or a 360 panoramic mount for your GoPro, Tio can be useful.
The core of Tio is a small Arduino-compatible cube with a multicoloured LED ring, a DC motor, and magnet slot. It doesn’t require any electronics or coding knowledge, and children as young as 3 can start playing with it via Bluetooth on the Android/iOS app. The magnet mounts and wheels that come as part of the kit mean that you can just snap and play with your invention, out of the box. The bottom of the cube is designed to show the circuit board, something to spike the curiosity of future engineers.
The app has been tested and refined to be personal and handled like a gamepad. It allows to synchronise motors and light colours, or control them individually. Patterns can also be programmed, to get a first taste of coding.
Through their Kickstarter campaign, Tio offer 2 main kits: Creator or Inventor. Both containing a variety of accessories such as pulleys, wheels, tyres, magnetic mounts, a storybook, and cut-out templates to get started with creating your own toys. Early birds will get the first kit for £69, and can hope to receive their kit in September (October for other backers).
Tio is designed to help you keep “a toy for life”, that you can recycle, re-model and reuse at your will. Overall a good balance of magic, craft, and technology.