For years I thought it would be fun to embed a smart assistant like Siri or Alexa into a plush toy like Teddy Ruxpin so a child can converse endlessly with a character they enjoy. However I was not comfortable with all the electronics that would be inside the plush toy, or the upkeep that would be needed (like charging the battery or cleaning the plush toy).
I feel it would be best if all of the electronics were completely separated from the plush toy, and placed in a walkie-talkie that the child can interact with. The plush toy would be holding a walkie-talkie too, but it would have no electronics, it is just a prop. The battery, speaker, microphone — everything needed to engage with a smart assistant is in the main walkie-talkie.
As for the smart assistant, I’m not sure if Siri or Alexa can be given the helium treatment to sound like Elmo, or if the character’s voice actor would need to record new dialogue, but either way the voice is a very important feature for this toy, it is the main selling point after all.
Ideally a child can have entire conversations with Elmo, play games, or even be quizzed for an educational aspect. The sky’s the limit with smart assistants, although this one would need parental controls obviously.
I’ve always wanted to incorporate a steering wheel into a handheld gaming device, because I don’t enjoy nudging a d-pad or analog stick for the entirety of a race. The wheel allows for a more fluid control scheme, and possibly a more relaxing experience while playing. Unfortunately this device would be exclusive to racing games!
This handheld was inspired by an F1 steering wheel, notably the carbon fiber body and colorful buttons. The wheel is embedded into the device, both thumb grips are joined by an arm that rests behind the screen. The shoulder buttons are the accelerate and brake inputs, and there are paddles on the back for shifting (not shown here).
Went with SEGA because they have been dipping their toes into making hardware again, plus they have an extensive catalog of racing games: Out Run, Hang-On, Daytona USA, Sonic Team Racing, Sega Rally, and Virtua Racing to name a few.
Force feedback and rumble could be incorporated, but that depends on the games included (if they are all retro it wouldn’t be worthwhile). One must-have feature would be to link up multiple devices for multiplayer racing, where many of these games excel.
Loft beds are typically elevated beds that are paired with a desk underneath. This design could also be a bunk bed but I already designed one for Ghostbusters. Went with the original firehouse toy playset for the look, as I felt it was more colorful and fun.
The garage door is a built-in dresser, and there are more drawers facing the desk too. Originally I wanted to include a functional fire pole to slide down but that might be too difficult to execute (might need to be anchored into the ceiling and floor?).
If you think this is over-the-top you should see this backyard Ghostbusters firehouse that some parents are building for their extremely lucky kid. If you are a parent, backyard, or Ghostbusters fan, you officially suck now and should rethink all of your life choices.
In 2006 a new miniature scale of model trains were introduced, the T gauge. I believe we can go even smaller! This is a complete train set that is the size of a book, featuring a motorized train that has variable speed and the ability to switch tracks on demand.
The locomotive is propelled by a magnet attached to an on-rails motor in the base. This system is a lot like those mechanical PONG tables which debuted a few years ago. The nose of the train has the metal needed to be pulled by the magnet below.
The rails system is something you’d find in a 3D printer, image scanner, or even an Etch-A-Sketch. It would guide the tiny train along its route that is stored in an onboard computer. It would be nice to swap out the track for different layouts (these could be printed on cardboard).
This desk toy would feature dedicated controls for the track switches, and a big dial for the speed. When this device is powered off, the train is automatically diverted to a side rail where it parks. The design above is sparse but the layout could be populated with buildings, trees, vehicles, and so forth. Lights and sounds are also possible.
There are drawbacks! Only one functioning train is possible, the train length would need to be short, and the terrain would need to be flat (you can add tunnels, but no bridges over rivers for example). And lastly if the motor is loud this concept wouldn’t be worthwhile, this thing needs to be quiet!
In the meantime you can buy these neat tiny trains but they feature basic oval tracks.
Arcade1Up recently released a series of mini plug-and-play consoles, and they appear to be solid emulation devices (granted their controllers could be better). I felt the console itself could be a bit more fun so I redesigned it to look like an Insert Coin slot from an arcade machine.
I just turned their console on its side and moved the power button, everything is still aligned to a single PCB board. The only major addition is an internal LED light.
This controller design is to help make older game systems like the NES and SNES become more accessible. While it looks like a regular joystick, this was inspired by automatic shift knobs seen in modern cars. The hand rests on top and moves the stick for D-Pad inputs. The thumb controls the action buttons (A B X Y plus START/SELECT), while the index and middle fingers hit the L and R shoulder buttons (much like clicking on a mouse).
The action buttons can be placed on both sides of the stick to make this for both lefties and righties, OR another set of L and R buttons could be included to achieve the same dual functionality (the shape of the stick would need to be symmetrical). However it would be more comfortable, and better for button-mapping, if a dedicated version was made for right hands, and another for left hands.
While it could be wielded like a regular joystick, this controller may need to be placed in a spot that is similar to the aforementioned car shifter knob. The user would need to be sitting in a reclined position, with the controller parked next to their knee. This layout would yield the most comfort, especially for prolonged gaming sessions.
SNES was used as the example here, but the idea could be applied to most 8-bit and 16-bit systems, or other systems that had a single directional input (Saturn, Dreamcast). I already designed a one-handed controller for the Atari.
Another keychain design, this time commemorating Google’s famous dinosaur video game (which occurs when you have no internet connection on the Chrome browser). It’s a fun game that helps pass the time, and it would be nice to have in a pocket-sized package.
This design borrows a screen and solar panel from a calculator (engineering or scientific calculator for a fancier dot matrix screen), the idea being you’d have this to play with when your phone dies. It features one recessed button, which is pressed for 2 seconds to power the device on or off.
The solar aspect could be removed for a more traditional battery-based device that can offer numerous features like a power bank or USB drive, but personally I’d rather have one less gadget to charge all the time.