By Andrew Liszewski
Remember Topobo? It was a construction toy created by Hayes Raffle, Amanda Parkes, Hiroshi Ishii and others at the MIT Media Lab which could be programmed to move in any way, without a computer, thanks to a set of special kinetic memory motors. Once your creation was complete you simply had to move its limbs or other body parts any way you’d like, and those movements would be automatically remembered and reproduced, bringing your creation to life. Don’t get it? Well this YouTube video explains it a lot better than I can.
The last time I saw a mention of Topobo was a few years ago, and at that time it was still a research project which meant the public couldn’t get their hands on it. But it looks like they’ve managed to produce a limited number of consumer-ready sets that are now available for purchase from the Topobo website. The basic 100 piece Experimenter Set which includes 2 motors or ‘actives’ will set you back $499, while the 1,000 piece Classroom Set which includes 24 actives is $4,999. Here’s to hoping some toy manufacturer puts these into mass production.