There’s no fooling my children. Why play with a plastic phone when you press the buttons on mummy’s real phone instead (and dial the grandparents in the UK at the same time?) And what’s the fun in a play computer when there’s daddy’s laptop to dribble over?
Let’s face it – most children want to play with their parent’s not very child-friendly electronic devices, from PDAs to digital cameras. And while there are lots of electronic toys for children on the market, most are just brightly-coloured minimally functioning distant relatives of adult devices and offer only short term entertainment (chances are they will soon find themselves at the bottom of the toy box).
That’s why Chicago-based industrial designers think/thing (who also designed the amazing Nestt car seat we mentioned in February,) have come up with the OUiP! kids handheld interactive electronic toy for children.
It’s no coincidence that this superb-looking toy has a whiff of the soft lines and minimal interface of Apple’s iPod and its successors – when it comes to designing toys the think/thing team want to create products that are are as interesting and desirable as grown up toys. And they have certainly succeeded here.
But what exactly does the OUiP! (which stands for Optimized Universal Interface Platform and is pronounced (h)wip) do? And will it a) capture my child’s imagination for more than two days and b) survive the assault course of daily toddler life (from being thrown down the loo to dropped off the balcony)?
Well for a start it works when you shake it – any motion will operate the device engaging your little one with changing images, vibration and sound. An image of a cow, for example, is coupled with a moo. And as your child plays with the OUiP! they are also charging the battery, as the device’s battery power is supplemented by electro-magnetic generators that are put into motion by force (and with the amount of batteries consumed by the mountain of toys in our house, any battery-less or self-powering toy is a blessing!). And I’m told that it is also shatter resistant too – another plus point.
What I really like is that the content is completely customisable via a wireless connection, so you can upload your own photos, images and sounds and the complexity can be varied according to the child’s age. It can function as a random picture generator or a flash-card like learning device.
The tech toy is still in the prototype phase, but we at Babyology hope to see it on the shelves soon. (And given that in the course of writing this review, my son has managed to shut down the computer with the deft touch of one Vegemite-covered finger, the sooner the better!). Watch this space.