From assembly to programming, the Hackaball combines learning to code with outdoor activity, bringing and internet-of-things approach to a lesson plan normally taught to bored kids stuck sitting indoors at a computer. Using any Apple or Android device, children can program this ball just as they would a desktop or laptop game, except they can take their resulting toy out to play with and share.
This throwable computer’s design starts with a versatile input and output system: “Thanks to tiny sensors, Hackaball knows when it’s falling, trembling, being thrown or kicked, or perfectly still. Tell Hackaball to change colour when it’s dropped, vibrate when it’s hit or even play sounds.”
The sky is essentially the limit – any game, simple or complex, that a child can dream up can be programmed into the ball, allowing it to flex with the imagination, experience and age of its users (generally recommended for 6 through 10). At under $100, the result is a relatively affordable teaching tool that can last for years or be passed (down) to others.
Durability is the key ingredient, provided by a sturdy but flexible membrane, as well as options beyond the ball: “The older kids wanted to stretch the computer to do things outside of the ball itself, which they can do by taking apart the two halves and attaching the computer to a toy car, a Lego construction, or anything else you can program using simple inputs and outputs.”