Overlooked Innovations: Shape Changing Toy

October 21, 2010 · Posted in innovation · Comment 

This simple, inexpensive educational toy could have been made any time during the past 20 years or even longer. If instead of using silicone it was made from natural rubber or some other natural flexible material, it could have been made thousands of years ago. Unlike the mop in my last overlooked innovation post, this toy was probably not needed in the distant past. Children used to have access to a near infinite range of tactile and visual stimuli. So even though it was possible to make this toy, and their has always been a need for children to learn through multi-sensory experiences, that need was already being satisfied. Only recently when children were denied the ability to freely interact with the world did the need for such toys develop. This is actually a different approach to satisfying two different outcomes, safety and learning. In the past children were made safe by learning about their environment. Today adults attempt to make the children safe by preventing any encounter with potentially dangerous items. This resulted in fewer educational experiences so now that must be provided by alternative means. In the past toys were used to distract very small children who had not yet learned how to keep themselves safe. Toys were a method to allow adults time to do things without directly controlling the children. Today the children are in a highly controlled environment with few real dangers. Toys are still used to distract children but an even better distraction is used, television and video games. All of these approaches are bouncing around the 15 Alternatives for satisfying the outcomes of safety, education, and entertainment.