By Amber Williams
Posted 02.16.2012 at 11:04 am 5 Comments
The National Toy Hall of Fame awarded “oldest toy” to the stick. Edward Bleiberg, a curator of Egyptian art at the Brooklyn Museum, says that Neolithic balls made from mud are probably out there, but in any case it would be difficult to determine if they were playthings.
By Bryan Gardiner
Posted 02.14.2012 at 11:07 am 1 Comment
Building and programming robots is no small feat. Just to get a robot to perform a simple action—say, turning when someone claps—can require hours of coding. Cubelets make robot creation as simple as stacking blocks.
By Amber Williams
Posted 02.13.2012 at 12:00 pm 10 Comments
Last October, near Karlsruhe, Germany, Thomas Senkel completed the first manned flight of an electric multicopter, flying it 10 feet off the ground for 90 seconds. Senkel, a physicist and paraglider pilot who helped found the company E-volo to build the craft, invented it after seeing a YouTube video of a German hobbyist’s remote-controlled hexacopter in action.
An Android speaker dock, a radiator booster, an RC spy-copter, and much more
By Corinne Iozzio, Susannah F. Locke, Kaitlin Miller
Posted 02.13.2012 at 11:14 am 1 Comment
Every month we search far and wide to bring you a dozen of the best new ideas in gear. These gadgets are the first, the best and the latest. Check out the gallery below to get the first look at what consumer technology has brought us this month.
By Amber Williams
Posted 02.10.2012 at 5:18 pm 0 Comments
Sure, you can buy fun things. But if you make them, you get the fun of construction plus the fun of use, with a dash of satisfaction and an anecdote to tell anyone who uses your creation. These three projects--a sledding winch to get you up a hill, a giant version of the board game Operation, and an Angry-Birds-playing robot--are all homemade.
What would the creators of some of the most beloved and widespread American toys make, if given a completely blank slate? We asked the driving forces behind toys like K'Nex, LEGO, Tickle Me Elmo, and Nerf to really explore their craziest impulses--and man, did they come up with some craziness.
One full week of keeping track of absolutely everything, to see if gamification can net you a win in the game of life
By Matthew Shaer
Posted 02.09.2012 at 3:56 pm 4 Comments
The experiment began at 11 a.m. in my bedroom in Brooklyn. I bought an app from the iTunes store called EpicWin, a fantasy-themed game designed to improve users’ lives by motivating them to accomplish real-world goals with virtual-world rewards. Before starting the game, I had to pick and customize an avatar that would represent me in the digital landscape of EpicWin. I chose a cadaverous warrior named Calcium Facebone. He held a blunt mallet in one hand. “Add new task,” the screen read.
Kingda Ka, the tallest roller coaster on Earth, drops its passengers a life-flashing 418 feet. Ferrari World’s Formula Rossa, the fastest, literally takes riders’ breath away at speeds of up to 150 mph. Though thrilling, these are phenomena of degree, not kind. BRC Imagination Arts, a Southern California design firm, has proposed something entirely new: a ride that creates the sensation of zero gravity for up to eight seconds at a time.
"Gravity has always been a major part of my life."
By Paul Kvinta
Posted 02.08.2012 at 3:41 pm 5 Comments
In the waning decades of the 20th century, men from New Zealand began inventing new ways to injure themselves. They jumped from bridges with elastic bands attached to their ankles, ran class-five rapids without boats, and fixed themselves to large kites to achieve great speed. Soon enough, a culture had emerged—one that paired backyard engineering with the pursuit of adrenaline. Today, thanks to these pioneers, brave souls the world over may hurtle through the air, down mountains and up rivers and live to brag about it.
Among the most strictly enforced consumer-protection laws are those banning lead in toys. Lead is an insidious poison: It’s slow-acting and results not in immediately noticeable effects like rashes but in behavioral problems and a slightly lowered IQ. Even a very small amount of it is harmful. Yet a few decades ago, a lot of the most popular playthings were made from solid lead, including tin soldiers.
In the late 1980s, millions of arcade-addicted kids sat in the faux racing seats of Sega’s OutRun videogame, grabbed the rubber-covered wheel of the imitation Ferrari Testarossa, pressed down on the pedals, and imagined they were roaring down the street. Twenty-five years later, one of those kids, Garnet Hertz, has realized that fantasy, modding an 1,100-pound arcade machine to ride on pavement.
Architecture and design firms are remaking the playground in ways you'd never expect
By Geoff Manaugh
Posted 02.06.2012 at 3:07 pm 5 Comments
Playgrounds are competing for kids’ time and losing. Nearly 25 percent of children ages 9 through 13 have no free time for physical activity, and a child is six times as likely to play a videogame as to ride a bike. The playgrounds of tomorrow must offer something that even the most enticing virtual offerings cannot: real spaces that look at least as amazing as anything virtual. Architects and design firms are remaking the playground by taking virtualization head on. These spaces are complex and engaging, and some even have buttons to push.
By Adam Dachis
Posted 02.06.2012 at 1:09 pm 5 Comments
Fans of classic video games have long been able to mimic old game systems on their computers using apps called emulators. Now, smartphones and tablets can also run them. With the right emulator and game files (downloaded separately), virtual versions of the Nintendo Entertainment System, Sega Genesis and other consoles—as well as dozens of vintage arcade titles that can’t be found as standalone downloads—will be available anywhere.
By Kaitlin Miller
Posted 02.01.2012 at 12:01 pm 23 Comments
Yes. Many pet owners have seen their sleeping dog or cat twitch or paw the air, as if dreaming of bones to bury or mice to chase. Stanley Coren, a psychology professor at the University of British Columbia and author of the book The Intelligence of Dogs, says that canines go through the same sleep stages as we do, only faster.
By Juliet Lapidos
Posted 01.30.2012 at 6:29 pm 29 Comments
On March 31, 2009, a panel of scientists and civil servants met to assess the risk presented by a recent series of tremors in the Abruzzo region of Italy. They concluded that a major seismic event was unlikely. Soon thereafter, Bernardo De Bernardinis, the vice-director of Italy’s Department of Civil Protection, the organization that put together the panel, told reporters that citizens should not worry, and even agreed with a journalist who suggested that people should relax with a glass of wine.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.