Need to Goof-Off!
at Toys for Grownups.
By Tim Connolly
October 1, 2002
Electronics' Laser Tennis® ($39.99)
will tell you that play is as necessary for adults as it is for children,
both for stress relief and for engaging the mind in ways that our
normal daily routine doesn't allow. On days when I manage to lose
an entire afternoon to computer game mayhem, I take comfort in knowing
that I'm acting with the benediction of modern science. As should
you. The expected life-span in North America today is roughly 74 years;
what else are you gonna do with all that time?
Tiger Electronics' Laser Tennis® received the 1999 Parents Magazine
Award for being a toy both parents and kids could enjoy together.
Or not. This portable tennis game is small enough to set up on your
desk, with a bridge-like structure spanning the court and projecting
a laser ball for the players to "hit" with reflective rackets. A computerized
umpire calls out the score, and there are push-button game settings
for one or two players (sorry, no doubles), with four levels of difficulty.
The sound effects are realistic enough to have your co-workers wondering
if you're watching a Wimbledon match in your office. Requires four
C batteries and two 9-volt.
Robotic Invention System 2.0. by Lego ($199.99)
may have unleashed a plastic Frankenstein with its Mindstorms:® Robotic
Invention System 2.0. Graduate courses at MIT are using Lego robot
systems, hackers are posting their own codes for the Lego OS on the
Web, and some users are even creating their own OS for the Mindstorms
platform. It's not hard to see why; with 718 pieces, 2.0 lets you
create a host of robot vehicles and give them life from your home
computer (windows 98 or ME). Each robot is built around the Lego RCX,
a programmable microcomputer that receives commands via an infrared
unit easily installed on your PC, and controlled with a user-interface
that's friendly and intuitive.
A variety of robots can be built, such as a light-sensitive
intruder alarm, or a robot that can move around obstacles to follow
a trail. The kit comes with two motors, two touch-sensors, one light
sensor, a "Constructopedia" (instruction book), and an infrared transmitter.
There are also expansion kits available, such "Exploration Mars,"
which allows you to build your own Mars Rover able to relay images
back to your PC via a standard Web-cam. (Cont.)
Exploration Mars by Lego
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