Chapter 10. Emerging Technology and Toy Design


There is an important distinction between a toy and a toy product. A toy is an object that is used for play. A spoon can be used as a toy. A box can be used as a toy. A 3D printer can be used as toy. But none of these items are toy products. A toy product is an item that is intentionally designed, manufactured, and sold for the primary purpose of play. A tinkerer can make a toy in his basement with an Arduino or a similar device. There are many resources available for tinkering, such as or Make magazine, which show people how to “hack” or prototype some exciting toy concepts. These, however, are not toy products, because they are not intended for manufacture and sale. This chapter targets designers who want to work in the toy product domain, not the toy hacking domain. Toy hacking has no restrictions and thus one can almost use any emerging technology imaginable when the intent is not mass production. I am also distinguishing toy products from video games; these are separate markets. For those who want to bring toy products to market, there are several barriers of which you need to be aware. Let’s dig in and begin investigating.

The Challenge of Toy Design

Designing in the toy industry is more difficult than one might expect given its playful nature. There are several reasons for this:

  • In addition to the form, function, and manufacturability concerns that are inherent in all product design, toy designers ...

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