Let's Make Robots!

Toys for kids with disabilities


UPDATE July 5.

In the las couple of weeks, several hacked remote controlled toys made their way to the kids. See how they like it.


If you want to helo, please contact the email addresses in the end of the video.

/ End Update


Well, i don't know how to begin but I think that I should write something about it. 

The idea is not mine but here in Shanghai we did some workshops to modify toys in a way that kids with disabilities can use them. For example we modified remote controls for RC toys with huge buttons, so kids with no hands or even no arms can press those huge buttons and make the RC toy moving.

DIYAbility is the central website for that kind of projects and we just do some of these workshops here in Shanghai. (please check the website for some pictures to get an idea about what i am trying to explain)

Right now I am helping them to create a instructional video and a PDF. 

My request here is that you share your ideas about what you think could be build or modified to give these kids something they can play with or even hack the toys by themselves. Any idea which can be done in a workshop for non-experts are welcome.






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Update with video. See how the kids use those hacked remote controls.

Commendable effort there Lumi, and the others too.

Although complex, I had read somewhere of a mind controlled system (which definitely applies to robotics) which makes use of biomedical sensors. But to use them in DIY projects, I guess they would have to be in the form of kits or modules. Using these, we can study the electrodes or in general terms, "brain waves", that are coming from one's brain to simulate the thoughts into real world control. But I don't know how effective, impact wise and cost wise, this would turn out to be though.

Great ideas from everyone here. It is the beauty of robotics, and in my opinion, the utmost pleasure when robots add smiles amidst the disabilities.

OddBot, a never ending source of ideas :-) Thanks, the mouse concept sounds vers promising. 

But i really should write more details and more precise in my initial post since we are talking only about children with physical disabilities, not mentally. That would be a complete different approach.

Actually the optical mouse sensors are sensitive enough that they could be used on almost any part of the body that has good movement control.

This is a tough one because disability varies greatly from one person to another.

For example, a metally disabled person could be amused by a toy similar in size and shape to a rubics cube but with RGB leds in the small cubes that change patterns depending how they hold it or shake it.

Someone who has deformed or amputated limbs need a completely different system. They may need something like a "track ball" that they can control with their feet (an upside down mouse).

I can imagine someone with limited movement in / no arms using two upside down PS2 mice (one for each foot) connected to an Arduino. There is a good PS2 mouse library available for Arduino.

And thanks you.

Thanks guys.

@jinx: Good idea, but this is a complete different matter...I'll explain later.

@basile: it's  a good idea too, thanks

@Max: Well, you got the point. A button on a pad you can even press with your nose when there are not even arms. LOL, I should have pointed that out more clear. We are not directly working with those people. We are simply organizing workshops where you and other people can com, donate an old or new RC toy and then we do the modification during the workshop. Afterwards the hacked toys will be donated to the right people/organisation.

You're a good man Lumi. I was working on a similar project to make a remote control for a Wowwee Robopet out of an iPad for my autistic nephew. He has both hands but his coordination is lacking. Of course then Apple changed their policies so you couldn't load software you wrote onto your own iPad without paying them a benji a year.

Accessibility is a huge concern in web development but one that most developers (would rather) ignore. In our shop we try to follow best practices for the differently abled (lots of elderly are interested in annuities.)

I can see adding audible feedback to a robot for blind kids, but I don't know about giving a soldering iron to a kid who can't use a remote control.

I have seen several toys that have 7-segment displays
How about putting bigger displays on those?


20 inch long 4 inch diamenter  give it a face that light up and sounds, along the body it needs to virbrate and have different textures runnin along the body  coarse, smooth. fur so on.

the idea is it will stimulate the sight sound touch