Ethical Toy Hacking

What is Ethical Toy Hacking?

'Ethical Toy Hacking' is a term that I formulated based on ethical software hacking principles. In the world of software, an ethical hacker is a computer and network expert who attacks a security system on behalf of its owners, seeking vulnerabilities that a malicious hacker could exploit. To test a security system, ethical hackers use the same methods as their less principled counterparts, but report problems instead of taking advantage of them. Similarly, in the world of toys, I would like to define an ethical toy hacker as one who gains knowledge of systems that are intentionally/unintentionally left open in terms of hardware/electronics and transfers this knowledge to other system designs usually reporting the loopholes to those who have left the systems open.


In order to make available to the child a fun way of a wireless embodied input to the system, the Smart Cycle Physical Learning System from Fischer Price was disassembled and modified by replacing the company's proprietary wired microcontroller connections to television with my own custom wireless microcontroller circuit. In order to do this every connection that went in and out of the microcontroller was studied and reverse engineered to RF enable potentiometer steering data and acceleration data from the toy's pedals. The steering data directs the black creative agent to move in various directions while the acceleration data controls the speed of the agent in the design space. One of the push buttons on the bike handle is used to control the movement of the agent's marker in up and down direction. The other push button was well utilized to send reverse acceleration data due to the insensitivity of the toy's IR sensor package to encode direction based pedal acceleration. Also since the power supply that runs the toy is 4 X 1.5V (D Battery) = 6V while the ATMEGA168 runs on 5V, it was necessary to use a 5V regulator to step down the voltage.

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