A much more stripped back stall for DoES Liverpool for this years event. As there seems to a bit of an Internet of Things (IoT) speciality at DoES, the table showed a selection of devices that interact with the internet in some way. Alongside a newly re-designed WhereDial and the veteran Bubblino, my Enchanted Toys train set got it’s first big public outing.

Enchanted Toys is a self-directed project around adding additional functionality to toys and randomised input to give those items extra personality, so they can “play back” rather than just be “played with”. In this installation, a 2-line oo-gauge train set was modified to be controlled by 4 buttons (“faster”, “slower”, “change direction” and “stop”) for each line and then the same functions were duplicated over a live web interface to remove the physical limitations around the number of people who could change the train behaviour.

As each input is executed in the order it is received, with no preference to any method, the resultant behaviour of either train is sometimes predictable and stable with a few organised players, but sometimes chaotic when many, disparate and separate instructions are given together. This emergent behaviour from chaotic input makes it easier for a local player to see the train they’re no using as a non-player character, rather than an inert device.

That, and it’s quite fun:

More on the Enchanted Toys projects as it develops, but keep an eye out for it at Maker Faire Manchester this year…

Enchanted Toys is likely to be online sporadically up to that event at the end of July 2014. Have a look at live.enchantoys.co.uk. If you can load the page, then you’re controlling the trainset!