Innovation That Matters

Designers create electronic toys out of paper

Fashion & Beauty

A kit containing paper toys printed with conductive ink aims to teach people what’s ‘under the hood’ of electronic devices.

French designers Marion Pinaffo and Raphaël Pluvinage have created a kit of fourteen paper toys that can be cut, folded and assembled to make electronic toys. The prints are silkscreened with reactive, conductive and thermosensitive inks that turn the paper into switches, sensors, and photoresistors. The designers aim was “to reveal what hides behind our machines’ magic black boxes” by allowing users to learn the electronic principles embodied in the toys. Through assembling and using the toys, children and adults can develop a greater sense of how basic electronic devices work, and remove the mystery behind these devices.

The kit, described by the designers as “an expedition through the invisible aesthetics of the electronic,” was exhibited at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs (Museum of the Decorative Arts) in Paris in May 2017, and won a 2016 Audi Talent Award in the Design category. Papier Machine is currently crowdfunding on Kickstarter, with an estimated delivery date of July 2018.

The kit includes a booklet containing the paper machines, which are assembled and then turned into toys using additional components provided in the kit. Each toy offers “MacGyver-like challenges”, from creating a sequencer using only a pencil and a battery, to building a flat pinball machine, and a folded paper hovercraft. Instructions have been made deliberately open to interpretation, to allow users to develop a more intuitive understanding of each device and develop an appetite for discovery. Toys that incorporate technology have been increasingly used to teach children the mysteries behind tech skills such as coding, creative skills such as color theory, and intuitive skills such as communication. What other skills might be taught through the use of toys that incorporate technology?




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