Are you an engineer? Then you probably will remember the incredible cool stuff you created with Lego® Technic, the crystals you grew with a Kosmos kit and the complex ball obstacle courses you designed with Fischertechnik.
Now, a couple decades later (yep, we’re getting old) we have been curious how kids and millennials play with technology. To find out we visited the toy fair in Nuremberg, Germany last week. Spoiler: The young generation is building way more amazing stuff than we did when tinkering together our FM radio kits.
The 2016 event which was visited by a total of 71,000 trade visitors from 125 nations focused on the three core trends “Train Your Brain” (mental gymnastics for children), “Everyday Hero” (playful everyday heroes) and “Design to Play” (toys as a design object). With high demand in these categories it has been obvious that toys for little inventors like we have been in our better years are on the uprise.
So let’s get straight to the things we discovered. A lot of the new toys are using electronic components with many devices equipped with NFC, wireless connectivity (BLE, WiFi, long range SubGHz…), MCUs and sensors.
These technologies open the door to a flood of new possibilities like boardgames connected to smartphones. A solution companies like ePawn are working on for some time now and which seems to be getting more and more interesting for entertainment companies in order to create new gaming concepts.
Another incredible observation is the appearance of high-tech products in the gaming industry. The KosmoBits has been by far one of the most amazing projects and won the ToyAward for best Teenager&Family product. The experimental kit aims on helping teenagers to learn how to program and use microcontrolers, sensors and apps. To achieve this goal the set comes with an Arduino-compatible MCU, Bluetooth connectivity and iOS as well as Android apps.
The users of the KosmoBits get also a controller board and four sensor characters, they play through the app, level by level, solving programming puzzles. All with the aim of soon writing their own first programs for the four characters so that they can be used outside of the game. Get some more insights in the video below:
In addition to the games there have been a lot of toys which we could only have dreamed of in our teenager-times. Even affordable toy drones like the one from Extreme Fliers, a UK based company, which showcased a toy-UAV equipped with a camera, have been part of the show. Checkout some more impressions from the event below.
In conclusion it seems that being a young maker nowadays is at least as cool as it has been in our childhood.
cover image: Toy Fair West Entrance – Stormtroopers (image: Spielwarenmesse eG / Christian Hartlmaier)