Looking for that perfect Christmas gift that will give your 6- to 14-year-old a taste of the most basic engineering principle -- that you can change your world if you can dream it -- and stir their creative juices while having a lot of fun? Look no further than ATOMS from the Boulder, Colo. startup Seamless Toy Co.
"We want to enable kids to make their toys do things and have fun at it," Seamless founder Michael Rosenblatt told me recently. "We created ATOMS to fill the gap between the maker community and kids, to narrow the gap between what kids can dream up and what they can make."
Got a stuffed animal you want to say meow when it's picked up? ATOMS can do that. Got a Lego car you want to turn into a moving target for your Nerf gun and have it stop when it's hit? ATOMS can do that. Want the lights in your dollhouse to turn on when you wave your magic wand? ATOMS can do that. Want to surprise your older sister with a pop-out-of-the-box jumping ball and then play her a recorded message if she steps through the door? ATOMS can do that. Want your iPhone to snap a picture when someone walks in front of a hidden switch? ATOMS can do that.
Each unit has a Lego-compatible footprint that can instantly turn any Lego kit into a smart toy that interacts with you, and that you can interact with. "ATOMS units can bring other toys to life."
Seamless Toy Co. founder Michael Rosenblatt, holding a sensor-enabled Nerf gun, is taking aim at the toy industry by enabling kids
to "make their toys do things."
(Source: Seamless Toy Company)
There are 14 different ATOMS elements that come in four color-coded flavors. Sensors are yellow, actuators are blue, smart power units are red, and logic elements are green.
ATOMS connect to one another over a three-wire cable carrying power and a seamless communications link.
"They just work right out of the box, no programming, just literally plug and play," Rosenblatt said. "We designed each ATOM to allow kids to create things as fast as they can imagine them. Kids as young as six years old have figured out how to make ATOMS do things in less than five minutes. The most important lesson they learn is cause and effect."
The sensors are an accelerometer, a control knob, an IR receiver, and a light sensor. The actuators are a motor, a spring-loaded popper, an earthquake shaker, an IR transmitter, an LED, and a sound recorder.
A central smart power unit with a rechargeable lithium polymer battery powers each unit. Some of these units also have a Bluetooth Smart interface that communicates with an iOS iPad or iPhone to allow ATOMS to control some phone functions and the phone to control collections of ATOMS.
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