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My living room looks like Darwin’s laboratory.
There’s a multicolored, three-legged creature
writhing on the floor. My daughter pulls off one of
its legs, and connects it to its face. My son teaches
it to walk. Much better — it’s really moving now!
This is how you play and learn with Topobo.
This brainchild of the MIT Media Lab’s Hayes
Raffle and Amanda Parkes is part construction toy,
part kinetic memory robot. By combining passive
construction pieces with active motor/brain hubs
(learning servos) you can spend hours creating
unlikely creatures with even more unlikely forms
My kids ( 6 and 3) immediately understood how to
record and play back the motion of their creations;
press a button, perform a few poses, press the
button again, and it’s alive! They were delighted to
see the colorful creatures twitching, creeping, and
Our only complaints: the Lego Technic-compatible
peg connectors can be hard to remove, and we’d
prefer battery power to being tethered to the wall
with the power supply wire.
While I wished the motion memory could be
saved between sessions, my kids had no interest
in reproducing past creations. Topobo is all about
exploring novel methods of movement, something
my kids figured out before I did.
—John Edgar Park
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