LEGO Toy Adaptations

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LEGO Toy Adaptation Team Videos

While toys modified to the needs of special-needs children are commercially available, they can be expensive and are generally less sophisticated than what most kids enjoy playing with.  Freshmen in Dr. Matthew Green's Fundamentals of Engineering Design course were challenged to adapt off-the-shelf remote controlled toys for use by special-needs children.  Working in teams, students analyzed the changes in interaction with the toys that would be needed, then designed, built and demonstrated prototype solutions using a LEGO Mindstorms kit and up to $10 in non-LEGO parts.

An alternate assignment introduced in Spring 2011 was to use the same components to allow for adaptive control of a touch-screen device (i.e. to play  Angry Birds).  Here are videos from a couple of teams who took on that challenge:

touchscreen1 touchscreen2


Media Coverage

Projects were scored in the following areas:


  • Allows two or more controls (e.g. throttle and steering)
  • Allows three or more control positions (e.g. forward/off/back)
  • Allows accurate control

User Interface:

  • Easy to use with ams and all the following combined
  • Accommodates fine motor impairment (e.g. fingers clenched inside oven mitt)
  • Accommodates gross motor impairment (arms and wrists locked, precise movements disallowed)
  • Accommodates loss of controlled strength
  • Controls are simple and obvious to understand
  • Stays in place while operating

Size, Aesthetics, and Maintenance:

  • Portable (size, weight)
  • Aesthetically pleasing
  • Easy (for a normally-abled person) to change controller batteries

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