Charlie’s Bear (2013)

This proximity-aware teddy bear reads RFID tags and plays different customizable sounds depending on where it is or what object it’s near — other toys, books, CDs, anything.

Charlie’s Bear helps children explore the world around them by producing sounds in reaction to other toys or objects nearby. It can play any sound files you choose — for example, the voice of the bear, a noise that another toy might make, a theme song prompted by a toy from a TV show, or a reading of a favorite book.

The teddy bear is built on an Arduino platform built with RFID technology to detect objects in its environment and is designed to be easily extensible. Users can upload to the memory card new sound files named appropriately for the RFID tag code and the association between object containing the tag and the sound file will be made automatically.

The bear was originally designed for my nephew with cerebral palsy. He is very tactile and auditory but has poor vision and no speech. The project was featured as a MAKE:PROJECT in Make magazine’s Spring 2013 issue.