The OpenAT 3D Printed Toy, a silver robot toy with a smiley face and a propeller hat

We’ve been talking a lot about toy hacking recently as part of our #HackingForTheHolidays campaign. Earlier this summer, we introduced our OpenAT 3D Printed Toy project which is a different take on switch-accessible toys. The goal of this project is to create a switch adapted toy that provides multiple, selectable feedback options and is easy to make.

Why Create a Toy?

Hacking commercially available toys so that they can be activated using assistive switches is a great way to make them more accessible and usable by someone who may not be able to interact with the toy otherwise. We have a resource guide for how to switch adapt toys, and the library contains numerous projects that provide step-by-step guides for how to modify specific toys.

Unfortunately, one of the challenges of hacking a commercial toy is that as time passes, the design of a toy may change, or the toy may be harder to find. A 3D printed toy would always be accessible in our library.

As well, for users who are just learning about cause and effect and how to use assistive switches, it can be helpful to tailor the type of feedback ⁠— sound, lights, motion ⁠— that is generated when the switch is activated to a child’s needs. There are some specialized assistive devices that provide multisensory feedback, but these can be prohibitively expensive.

Functional Prototype

a diagram of the OpenAT 3D Printed Toy, demonstrating the features of the robot toy, including a spinning propeller, an RGB Light Ring for the smiley face light-up display on the head, an RGB Light Strip light-up display on the chest, as well as the speakers and control on the platform it stands on

We now have a functional prototype that lights up, moves, and produces sound when activated. As you can see in the video below, users can select and adjust the stimuli when the toy is activated. This version has a propeller that spins, a speaker that plays sounds, and lights that change color. A user can turn on or off each stimuli, adjust the volume, and adjust the brightness of the lights.

We Need Your Feedback

This device is very much a work in progress, and we would love to hear your feedback on this design. We have created a short survey. You can also leave feedback on the forum post or by emailing [email protected]. We also have a unit that is available for testing, ideally for someone located near Victoria or Vancouver, BC.