Andrew Little, a young product designer from Dundee, Scotland, hacked popular toy Etch A Sketch to create the wonderful Connect A Sketch.
The Etch A Sketch was first released in 1960 but its appeal widely surpassed the Baby Boomer generation. I, for one, remember spending countless hours playing on mine when I was a kid.
The mechanics of it are fairly straighforward: There’s a screen framed by plastic and underneath it, a coat of aluminum powder. The Etch A Sketch has two knobs and when you twist them, a stylus moves linearly (in horizontal and vertical directions) over the surface of the screen. What the stylus does isn’t drawing per se, it just partially exposes the aluminum powder hidden below. Once the sketch is done and you feel like making a new one, all you need to do is turn your Etch A Sketch upside down and shake it. The inside of the screen gets uniformly covered by aluminum powder again and it’s set to go.
If the Etch A Sketch is fun enough on its own, Andrew’s 21st century twist on it is simply amazing. His hack makes it possible for two of the toys to be connected to each other wirelessly over the internet, so that their users may almost simultaneously see -on their respective screens- what either one of them is drawing or writing. If one user erases their doodle, the other user’s Etch A Sketch will shake as an alert.
The owner of a Connect A Sketch who felt like taking part in some artsy back and forth with another Connect A Sketch-er in, oh I don’t know, the other side of the world, would simply have to register at the Connect A Sketch website and then invite any other registered user to join in on the fun, or accept someone else’s invitation.
Andrew’s rework isn’t purely technical; he also re-designed the outer appearance of the toy. With its white acrylic frame and slick silver knobs, the Connect A Sketch looks current and neat, though still playful.
The product will be officially unveiled at the 2011 Dundee Degree Show, which will take place from 21 to 28 May, and the London New Designers Exhibition in June and July. Hopefully it’ll be a smashing success, seeing as it’s a perfect example of how traditional toys and pastimes can be updated and introduced into the digital age without losing their original charm.
More Etch A Sketch goodness can be found here: The Etch A Sketch iPhone Case, 15 Fun Etch A Sketch Gadgets and Mods and Etch A Sketch Freestyle: Makes Your Child Learn with the Fun of Drawing.
Via: Design A Little