Mar 3, 2016 | By Tess

We often hear about concerns that mobile devices and smartphones are hindering children’s creativity and sociability, and while this may be true in the majority of cases, certain innovators are trying to flip this reality by using the technology for good, to actually get children interested in creating and innovating for themselves. London based startup Tio is doing exactly that with its new app-controlled Tio building block kit, which is seeking funding through a recently launched Kickstarter campaign.

Tio was founded by Peter Spence, Ashely Wiltshire, and Mario Morello who set out to create a toy product that not only promotes and encourages children to create and invent, but also makes those creations come to life. What they came up with is the Tio Kit, a DIY assembly kit which comprises of their Tio motorized building blocks with built in color changing LEDs, attachable wheels, and a number of accessories and “pop and fold invention templates”. The beauty of their product is that children are not restricted to using the accessories from the kit but are encouraged to create their own toys from recycled craft materials, old toys, and 3D printed add ons.

Peter Spence explains the inspiration behind the project, “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? Fast forward 20 years and I set out to invent my dream toy to be enjoyed by kids of all ages. This is when Tio was born.”

Mario, Peter, and Ashley

To create using the Tio blocks children simply have to attach the motorized Tio blocks to wheels or other moveable pieces, decorate and add to the basic moving structure and then connect their new toy to the free Tio app, compatible with iOS or Android. With the app installed on a mobile device, children can control the speed, direction, and light color and patterns of the Tio block. The app also gives its users access to Tio’s “safe online community” through which children can download additional templates, find inspiration from other Tio users, unlock badges and more.

To introduce the technology to youngsters, the team at Tio have also developed a comprehensive storybook that takes children through the steps of using Tio and creating with it. From a racecar made from cardboard scraps, to a windmill made from the kit’s templates, to a 3D printed spaceship, children’s imaginations can run wild with the DIY toy technology.

More than just for children, however, the Tio kits can be used to create tools useful to adult makers such as remote controlled GoPro stands, or motorized 3D printed creations.

The Tio toy kits come in two editions, the Tio Creator Kit, which comprises of 2 motorized blocks, 1 app, 1 storybook, 9 invention templates, 2 wheels, 2 tyres, 2 pulleys, 2 adapters, 5 magnetic mounts, 4 sticky tabs, 1 caster, 2 charge cables, and 30 stickers; and the Tio Inventor Kit, which includes double the number of blocks, wheels, tyres, pulleys, adapters, magnetic mounts, sticky tabs, casters, charge cables, and stickers.

Tio’s Kickstarter campaign has to date raised £15,316 of its £50,000 goal (approximately $70,233). If you are interested in making a pledge to their innovative toy product, be sure to do so before the campaign expires on April 5th, 2016. In terms of rewards, if you make the early-bird special you can receive a Tio Creator Kit for £69 (approx $96), once the early birds are sold out, the Tio Creator Kit can be purchased for a pledge of £79 (approx $110). For the early bird Inventor Kit a pledge of at least £139 ($194) will have to be made, £149 ($208) regular price. Each reward comes with a 3D printing credit of minimum £10, which can be used to create parts for your Tio toys. Rewards are scheduled to ship starting September 2016.

Dr Andrew Manches, a professional learning scientist said of the product’s potential, "Tio clearly demonstrates the power of combining digital technology with hands-on creative play. With a supportive adult, the possibilities for inspiring children to create are truly exciting.”

Tio is providing a child-friendly platform through which kids can not only make toys, but hone their creativity and STEM skills, hopefully turning the mind-numbing aspect of mobile devices into a proactive, productive tool for children to learn and 3D print with.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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