I've been tracking with great interest the "makerfication" of all sorts of devices that were previously too futuristic or too expensive to be practical. But as the sizes and costs of integrated circuits continue to shrink, an entire army of "makers" are out there creating revolutionary technology in their basement workshops. This new crop of "maker kits" have very real implications for the toy market. Just as budding chemists might play with chemistry sets, a new generation of engineers and inventors now have unprecented "toys" at their disposal.
Today I received a fascinating email from SparkFun, an innovative, Boulder, Colorado based electronics manufacturer. What immediately caught my eye was a Muscle Sensor device. Yes, I'm talking about Rocky IV Drago kind of stuff here! Once the domain of expensive medical research, with this $49.95 kit you can apply a few electrodes to your arm, flex your muscles, and output the corresponding electrical activity of your muscle. Combined with a controller like Arduino - you could build all sorts of sophisticated muscle-sensing devices.
In reading the comments, an inspiring father has already done just that:
"My son has a myoelectric left arm that has electrodes that don’t need pads to be replaced. I’m building a bunch of stuff for him (like a ShapeOko CNC) to start building his own arms and other useful life enabling tools that are more cost effective. His current arm takes up $30k+ of my health benefits each year. The option to have an homebrew arm that doesn’t require replacement pads would be a huge plus. Something to consider for the future."
How cool is that? Just as brilliant developers have been writing open source code that drives much of the Internet, a new generation of makers could "homebrew" intelligent prothetics at a fraction of the current cost and make life just a little easier for amputees and other physically disabled individuals. What an amazing age we live in.
The future is right now. We're proud to offer a selection of some of SparkFun's best selling kits right here at Fat Brain Toys!