Make it. Hack it. Play it.
Nowadays, it seems like kids are more apt to be fixated on the screen of their mobile gadgets than playing outside with one another. Cognizant of this, a new London-based collaborative is looking to converge both modern-day technology with old-school fun to develop what they’re calling Hackaball.
Launched on Kickstarter by innovation startup Made by Many and design company Map, the teched-out ball is packed with a number of electronic components including a gyroscope, an accelerometer, a vibration motor, nine LEDs, a speaker, a microphone, a rechargeable battery, and an Arduino.
“Our early versions of the ball worked with the Arduino Uno (ATmega328) board, progressing to a breadboard Arduino and then making our own SMD designs with the Uno. In the latest prototypes, we used the Arduino Leonardo (ATmega32U4) and our current version runs on the Arduino Mega (ATmega2560). Our production version will run on an ARM chip,” the team revealed.
In an effort to let “kids be kids,” the hardware is housed in a pair of rubber and silicone membraned halves that serve as a shock absorber to protect it from bounces, throws, drops and other harsh elements it will inevitably be put through.
Using its companion mobile app, the ball allows kids to imagine and create their own games in an IFTTT-like system. The Hackaball can be programmed to illuminate lighting effects, emit sounds and make rumble patterns in response to various actions like shaking, dropping and bouncing.
The Hackaball is geared towards the six to 10-year-old demographic and grows the more they play, rewarding kids with unlockable features and challenges them with broken games to fix. In fact, the spherical device arrives “broken,” encouraging its users to get it working through the accompanying iPad app.
Hackaball provides kids with a wide range of uses, whether that’s appearing as a prop in plays, serving as a magic 8-ball, waking them up as an alarm clock in the morning, or even pranking parents by making it a whoopee cushion. What’s more, the device offers users the ability to learn the basics of programming and how technology works in a much more interactive, engaging manner.
“We wanted to make Hackaball tough and beautiful at the same time. We’ve built many prototypes and tested them with the toughest audience – children – to get this right, designing a form that’s robust and tactile but flexible and responsive too,” the team writes. “Hackaball started as an intern project with the simple brief — play! We wanted to give children a new way to understand technology and put them in control.”
Interested in one of your own? Then head over to its official Kickstarter page, where Hackaball is
currently seeking has successfully garnered well over $100,000. After having surpassed several of its stretch goals, the team revealed that the gadget will come in two differently colored jackets, soon be hackable through Arduino, and will be available on iOS — meaning users can invent on their iPad or Macs. In the coming months, they also hope to unveil an Android app as well. The product is expected to ship in December 2015 — just in time for the holidays!