Baby-talk in 140 characters

5 Dec

So birds chirp and babies tweet?

The Twoddler prototype - Source: http://research.edm.uhasselt.be/~twoddler/

The Twoddler prototype - Source: http://research.edm.uhasselt.be/~twoddler/

A research team at the Hasselt University, Belgium, have developed what they’re calling Twoddler, a Fisher Price Activity Centre that connects a toy station to a Twitter account, and sends out tweets based on what the baby is doing with the toy.

The twoddler application is basically an activity centre enhanced with pictures of family members and friends, and an Arduino board inside. This is how the Hasselt University team describes the toy:

“For example: when Yorin plays with mommy’s picture for over 3 minutes, a twitter message will be posted saying “@mommy_yorin Yorin misses mommy and looks forward playing with her this evening”, or when Yorin is hitting the doorbell button four times in a row, a twitter message will be posted saying “Yorin is showing off his music skills with a new tune”. We hope to even support dynamic composition of new strings in the future.”

The team won an impressive 5000 Euros for their prototype at the Innovative and Creative Applications (INCA) developer competition earlier this year; however, they are not willing to commit to its commercial availability at this stage. The jury at the INCA ’09 described the prototype as “A good, well implemented idea with a lot of potential. It allows people/children that are not capable of verbal communication to communicate through an inventive combination of hardware and software.”

The internal working of the activity centre. Source: http://research.edm.uhasselt.be/~twoddler/

The internal working of the activity centre. Source: http://research.edm.uhasselt.be/~twoddler/

Here’s a video demonstration of how it works.

Reactions to the prototype were varied in London, ranging from “Why would I want a baby to clog up my timeline, and know that he is missing his mommy?”, as Bobby Collier, a 23-year-old graduate student of Law said, to “I might like to know what my baby is doing while he’s with his sitter, and I’m at work!”, from Anette Campbell, a 32-year-old finance executive.

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