Tio turns inanimate objects into connected moving inventions in minutes

Tios are motorised magnetic blocks that create fully wireless app-controlled inventions in minutes, from a moving lego robot and a water bottle race car to a craft UFO, turning your surroundings into a living playground.
Written by Eileen Brown, Contributor
Tio turns inanimate objects into connected moving inventions in minutes ZDNet

Tio is a British-made technology intended to "animate the world around you". Its Creator and Inventor kits enable children to transform everyday objects and materials - from drink bottles to cereal boxes - into 'connected' inventions with individual moving parts.

You can configure LED colour sequences, motor functions and movements that can be recorded, repeated, and controlled from a tablet or smartphone to inspire a new generation of young inventors.

The motorised magnetic blocks are accessible to all abilities and ages, from children as young as three and adults as old as 86. Tio has built in LEDs - that can be controlled individually or simultaneously from a single device.

This can perform tasks such as lifting and carrying objects, mounting obstacles, flapping wings, flashing coded messages with LED colour sequences, or driving and rotating at different speeds.

The technology, designed by a UK University graduate includes 'connected' motorised blocks with built-in LED rings. There are adapters, pulleys, and wheels that can be easily attached to everything from gadgets to old toys.

This enables children to turn their surroundings into an interactive learning environment creating a generation of young artists, designers, architects, engineers and inventors.

The aim is to enable anyone, to transform inanimate objects into remote-controlled custom-made inventions, from crawlers to cranes and windmills.

These can be manipulated at the tap of a smartphone or tablet. Children can even use the kits to animate 3D-printed mini robots.

Users can also 'teach' the robots to perform tasks with the free iOS and Android app.

The robots can lift and carry objects, mount obstacles, have flapping wings or flashing coded messages with LED colour sequences, or driving and rotating at different speeds.

Children can program inventions to record and repeat sequences of actions and colours - such as moving wings at a certain pace or lifting and carrying nearby objects from one room to another.

They can demonstrate the results of their invention to friends and family. Programs can also be downloaded and shared with the online community of Tio inventors.

Tio is also preparing to expand the functionalities of its safe online community for young inventors to find inspiration, join challenges, unlock badges, download construction templates, crowd-source innovations and exchange new ideas.

Powered by Creatubbles, the online community allows children to share their first invention ideas, mock-ups and drawings.

The Creator and Inventor kits arrive with nine pop-and-fold invention templates as a starting point, before users go on to creating and exploring combinations of different materials and different inventions.

Templates include a lighthouse, climber, windmill and helicopter.

The free iOS and Android app communicates wirelessly with the inventions to customise and program them. It controls many features like motor speed and direction as well as LED colours, rotation and patterns.

With taps on the app, the programming mode allows creators to record and repeat sequences of actions including colour patterns and movements. Coding is not required making the app accessible to all.

Tio's ultimate aim is to provide user-friendly technology. People of all abilities and ages can easily create, modify and play with new inventions that can perform various tasks or overcome challenges.

The makers hope that this will encourage creativity, spark invention and inspire younger generations to get interested in STEM subjects, from engineering to architecture.

Its Kickstarter campaign quickly reached its financial goal. However, the project was cancelled as the makers have been 'presented with a number of exciting opportunities that will really impact the future of Tio'.

The team is now now in talks with 'leading toy manufacturers' to further develop and promote Tio and to ensure a 'smooth journey to market'.

Peter Spence, co-founder and inventor of Tio said "As a child I vividly remember that I couldn't make my toys move without a little help from gravity.

I started thinking, what if there was a magic engine to do that? Fast forward 20 years and I set out to invent my dream toy to be enjoyed by kids of all ages."

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