How Toys can Inspire Amazing Innovations

Toys, especially Legos are inspiring amazing innovation. Two recent TV news stories help us to understand what's possible with inexpensive toys and a vivid imagination.

Toys, especially Legos are inspiring amazing innovation. Recently on The Next List, Sanjay Gupta’s weekly innovation show on CNN, there was a segment about a young woman who has created the “next generation” of Legos.

“Ayah Bdeir has invented littleBits – an open-source kit of circuit boards that you build creative projects.”

Legos are really great for occupying busy hands and offer a creative outlet for kids of all ages. Bdeir, an engineer brings a new level of learning and creativity to her creation, Little Bits. With Little Bits, a child (or an adult for that matter) can create a real “science project.” This toy brings science to everyday fun.

“Each littleBits is a pre-engineered electronic module that snaps together with tiny magnets to create just about anything: light, sound, sensors, power, switches and different types of displays. There is no limit to what a person can create, Bdeir says.”

Watch this segment on the CNN website.

The Next List also recently featured another fascinating story about toys, entitled “Make your own medical device! Why not?”

“Jose Gomez-Marquez is the Program Director for Innovations in International Health at MIT and heads up the Little Devices group, where he uses toy parts to create inexpensive medical devices for developing countries.”

Gomez-Marquez says, “You may not have the courage to hack a $1,000 device, but you do have the courage to hack a $5 toy.”

His team said, “Why don’t we use Legos…?” And they did – they created a blood testing kit that could be used all over the world.

Watch this amazing story on the CNN website.

These fascinating stories raise several questions:

  1. Can you or your organization use toys to spur innovation?
  2. Can you create something that will help kids to learn about science, technology and creativity?
  3. If necessity is the “mother of invention,” then the necessity of creating solutions for healthcare and energy is upon us, what solutions can you create with components like Legos?

By Chuck Frey

About the author

Chuck Frey Senior Editor, founded and served as its publisher from its launch in 2002 until the partnership with Innovation Management in 2012. He is the publisher of The Mind Mapping Software Blog, the definitive souce for news, trends, tips and best practices for visual mapping tools. A journalist by trade, Chuck has over 14 years of experience in online marketing, and over 10 years experience in business-to-business public relations. His interests include creative problem solving, visual thinking, photography, business strategy and technology. His unique combination of experience and influences enables him to envision new possibilities and opportunities.