Baby games

SpindleyQ's picture

So my son turned one year old yesterday! We got him a videogame console for babies.

Now I dare you to look at that thing and not immediately think "Baby Pop'n Music." It is obvious that the giggly Baby Einstein "smartridges" (Seriously! That's what they call them!) are only of limited interest. I'd originally thought that it might be interesting to write software directly for the unit, but it soon became clear that I would have to do a LOT of reverse engineering work -- something I don't have the time or experience to do properly before my son grows out of the thing.

Then I realized that the interesting thing is not the system itself, but the controller. The controller is a very simple IR transmitter, like a remote control. And you can pick up IR receivers for PCs for under $10 on eBay.

So if I pick one of these things up, and write a simple program to convert these IR signals to keystrokes, I could very well make videogames for my 1-year-old son in Klik & Play. For that matter, so could all of you! Kirk just DID!

You guys, you have no idea how exciting it is to think that you could make toys for your child that aren't obnoxious. Every toy on the market has a sound chip in it that talks to my son in a sing-song voice about how fun counting is, and about how fun the alphabet is, and about how fun opposites are, and about how fun manners are. They repeat themselves endlessly. They stunt the imagination. Some of them even tell my son they love him. I have inanimate objects in my house that tell my son they love him!

I can do better. This is my next project.

Comments

GoreCore's picture

You have inspired me to do

You have inspired me to do the same thing. I'm gonna buy an IR receiver and multimedia remote to make such a thing.
And making games especially for kids is on my mind on my WIP charity game project. A Mario Party thing, but instead to pay people would send money to charity groups. Sorry, gone offtopic.
Great idea SpindleyQ! I pick the challenge.

kirkjerk's picture

Technically, it was

Technically, it was Processing, but sans it a bit of graphical flourish it was pretty do-able anywhere.

The 2 year old I tested it on... I dunno, her parents are pretty vigilant about keeping her from tv and games and all that... she's maybe seen a few youtube-ish videos, that's about it. So it's tough for me to know how engaging something like this is for a more jaded youth....

still, I think it captures attention, and associates sounds and letters... though in some ways it's a bit too much about typing as well...

SpindleyQ's picture

When I write the V.Smile

When I write the V.Smile driver for it, I'm going to make every button just hit a random letter.

qrleon's picture

Having seen only recently

Having seen only recently what the average baby/toddler toy is like now, I gotta say, this is a really great idea.

kirkjerk's picture

I remember seeing this one

I remember seeing this one playkit, some kind of dragon - ah here it is:
http://www.amazon.com/Fisher-Price%C2%AE-Roll-a-Rounds-Drop-Roar-Dinosaur/dp/B0007WWZK4

"roll arounds" are aesthetically pleasant, and the gumball machine was esp clever in its design.
One thing I really disliked was the length of the sound effects... like, rather than a little reactive sound like a "boiiiinng" or even a really brief fanfare, it's a goofy 20 second or so jingle. It seems like at some point "cause and effect" would get lost in there...