Thinkertoys makes pianos out of old keyboards and is committed to converting the world’s tech waste into functional toys for children in developing nations.
ThinkerToys began as a one-man-show with Dhairya Dand who was on a mission to set up an openToys community where designers and engineers would be tasked with creating innovative ways to re-use e-waste. Dand has so far created four ThinkerToys prototype kid modules that encompass the Arduino computer as a platform with added custom chips, code and a fitted kit-specific component like a serial LCD screen, speaker or a VS 1053B MP3 decoder. While these projects are still in their initial stages and are in need of further development, Dand explains his goals in an interview with Gizmag:
[Creating] production quality custom hardware that can go out and be used as toys for kids in the developing world, especially starting with kids who work and live near landfills.
Dand is finding inspiration from the work of a researcher at Keio-NUS CUTE Centre and Mixed Reality Lab in Singapore. The research was involved in creating a simple and cheap edutainment kit module that can be easily shipped to developing countries where e-waste is transported for disposal. The kids would then be paired with discarded but functional tech such as PS2, keyboards, mice, speakers etc. Dand is extremely motivated to develop his concepts, he is currently perfecting existing prototypes and for the future has larger plans in converting e-waste into toys for children. Gizmag reports:
Dand also plans to return to Cambodia in May 2012 to start a pilot production run in collaboration with a rural school. He intends to live with the kids while evaluating which kits prove the most popular, and “ figure out the power-problem—one solution is to have a single solar-based charging station in the village, where kids come charge their toys and play.”
With innovative design and engineering, Dand is proposing an alternative to pile-stocking e-waste. He is also challenging the normative disposal tactics of e-waste in a developing context.