Remember paper? It's that thin thing you used to scribble your shopping list on before everything was stored in zeros and ones. Well, it looks like paper is making a comeback … and thanks to the rise of the Internet of Things, it's now Wi-Fi enabled. ReaDIYmate is a recent Kickstarter-funded project, which enables users to create paper-based internet companions that respond to things happening in their digital life.
ReaDIYmates are easy-to-build Wi-Fi objects – the makers say you don't need any creative or technical skills to make one – which are designed to bridge the gap between the online and real word by reacting to your digital presence. Examples include moving of their arms when you receive an email from a specific person, or playing an MP3 when you're mentioned on Twitter.
At the core of the animated companions is the external "ReaDIYmate little computer," which features Wi-Fi, an MP3 decoder, a 2W amplifier and 2 GB storage. This is accessed via a web interface where users select what services it connects to, and rules specifying how it will respond. Currently Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, RSS feeds, SoundCloud and If This Then That are supported.
While the "brain" of ReaDIYmate offers functionality for adults, the "body" is where there's potential fun for children (of all ages). The servomotor and speaker box can be covered with paper designs, and 19 different bodies ranging from cute robots to dancing chicks have been created by international artists. They all come in a variety of options including blank templates ... ready to be decorated by you, or an artistic little one.
Creators Marc Chareyron and Olivier Mével say there are two main types of ReaDIYmate, a Paper Toy Edition (think cute paper robot) and a Kinetic Sculpture Edition (a DIY art piece) but that both offer similar functionality – which also includes being able to receive a sound from a friend or to be controlled remotely by an iPhone.
Because the "brain" is Arduino-compatible and open-source, you can write your own apps and add functions by selecting from 50 available electronic brick components, which can be snapped into place without the need for soldering. More adventurous hackers are also being encouraged to treat ReaDIYmate as a toolbox, and add interactivity to existing objects or create new things from scratch.
Having secured their funding on Kickstarter, the ReaDIYmate team is currently taking more pre-orders on readiymate.com. Prices are US$130 for the Paper Toy or Kinetic Sculpture editions, while $100 will get you the Barebone option, which gives you the basics but without any paper body template.
Here's a vid with a bit more info about ReaDIYmates.