Hackaball is fun

The long awaited Hackaball has been released to those who backed as a kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/hackaball/hackaball-a-programmable-ball-for-active-and-creat , designed as a tough, easily programmable device for children that can be thrown around and (within reason) treated roughly. Further protected by an outer shell.

The microcontroller is surrounded by a tough what appears to be a silicone (or similar) ring and encased in a two rubbery halves of a ball. In included within are sensors (accelerometer and gyro), vibration motor,  LEDs, rechargeable battery, and a speaker (that can be programmed to make some interesting sounds, that go down well with children and adults). The two halves of the ball are translucent and diffuse the LEDs effectively.

The computer you can throw, was the campaign's strapline and that is not an idle boast, I have let a six-year throw it around a large room with hard floors and even harder walls, treat like a ball and I have thrown it high it the air at night and not tried catch it to make a second 'moon' (temporarily) and it survives. Getting going with it initially, is basically, switch it on, close the two half of the balls, pull the outer shell over the ball and start throwing it.

The App is free to download and comes with a number of games to download or you can write your own using their graphical language. Though it seems initially simple, it is suited to someone beginning to program - which is its target audience. An example of the code is shown below.

I like this package both as 'just' a toy, it is great fun throwing it within a group and watching it change colour and make interesting noises, from instructions such as "sound like fart" (see the image above). As a relatively simple programmed toy it is good. It in the end though comes down to their strapline "computer you can throw", that is its beauty. When you realise you can program something and throw it, drop it; you are moving from seeing computers as fragile things but to as a physical, enjoyable item - you are throwing it around and not thinking of as a computer.

All opinions in this blog are the Author's and should not in any way be seen as reflecting the views of any organisation the Author has any association with. Twitter @scottturneruon

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