July 30 - Modern gaming techniques are taken to the playground as children compete to produce energy. Suzannah Butcher reports.
The rocking horse has entertained children for generations - but this modern-day steed is something special. Not only does it light up as a child rocks, the lights are powered by the kinetic energy the children produce. Concerned that kids are spending too much time in front of computer games, the developers of the Lumi are determined to get them back into the playground. And they are using the energy created by the children to do it. Ilian Milinov is from Bulgarian company Playground Energy, the inventors of the Lumi. SOUNDBITE (English) CO-FOUNDER OF PLAYGROUND ENERGY, ILIAN MILINOV, SAYING: "We have to bring this outdoor classic playground in 21st century. That is why we transform this kinetic energy spent from kids on the playgrounds into light, sound in order to motivate them, to stimulate them to play more in playgrounds." By hooking the toys up to a central hub, the children can compete against each other, just like when playing computer games - the lights and sounds showing who is producing the most energy, the fastest. Seven-year old Yasen is fairly confident.... SOUNDBITE (Bulgarian) SEVEN-YEAR-OLD BOY, YASEN, SAYING: "I think the energy I would produce will not be enormous, but still enough!" And one parent, Ralitsa, jokes that she has long been aware of the kinetic capabilities of her offspring. SOUNDBITE (Bulgarian) MOTHER OF FIVE-YEAR-OLD GIRL, RALITSA, SAYING: "The bursts of energy from them could easily power a household, I am sure." Playground Energy says it hopes its toys will help combat rising obesity levels in children.