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Hacking Toys to Bring Greater Joy to Special Needs Children!

Press Release   •   Oct 17, 2016 14:00 +08

Singapore, 17 October 2016 – Toys are an integral part of childhood development and for special needs children, many assistive toys specially designed for them are not affordable or commercially available.

For a group of engineers at DSO National Laboratories, they set out to make a difference, a toy at a time. For the past five months, they have been hacking toys and modifying them for the physically-challenged children at SPD (formerly known as Society for the Physically Disabled).

DSO Hack-a-Toy 2016 saw a total of more than 50 volunteers modifying 51 toys and 68 switches. The team used their engineering expertise and innovative thinking as defence researchers to modify toys and develop switches, to adapt to the various needs of the children. Commonly available items were used in the switches’ development so that they could be easily replaced after prolonged wear and tear.

“With the usage of audio jacks, the switches are now interchangeable and the children would be able to play with the toys no matter their ability level. This project was challenging because we wanted to ensure that the various switches made would bring about a better quality of life for the children. We are glad that the toys will be very useful to the teachers and children at SPD,” said Mr Leow Hua Sheng, Head of Technical Team.

Ms Denise Phua, Mayor of Central Singapore District, graced the Hack-a-Toy ceremony as the Guest of Honour and was given a tour of the toys showcase. She had the opportunity to observe the children’s interaction with the toys and understand how these modifications would assist them in their learning.

“Technology can help overcome barriers and enable people with disabilities to lead more enriching and independent lives. We are very happy that DSO has chosen to collaborate with us to come up with this wide range of switches and modified toys that will bring smiles to many of our children,” said Ms Becky Hoo, Director, Children Services, SPD.

Through Hack-a-Toy, the DSO team hopes to use their engineering expertise and innovation to contribute to the special-needs community. DSO’s first involvement in this project began after several DSO engineers participated in a Hack-a-Toy workshop conducted by Engineering Good. In 2015, DSO then partnered with Engineering Good and modified over 50 toys and switches for the special needs children at Rainbow Centre.

DSO National Laboratories (DSO) is Singapore’s national defence research and development organisation. It undertakes indigenous development of advanced defence and weapon systems that provide the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) with the superior technological edge in the battlefield. While its primary focus is to support the SAF, DSO also extends its defence R&D capabilities to support homeland security.

With more than 1,500 technical staff, DSO investigates emerging technologies, matures promising ones and integrates them into innovative system concepts to meet Singapore’s defence and security needs. For more information, please visit www.dso.org.sg.

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