Excitim are known for producing switch adapted toys and every year we kick-start our search for new toys by visiting exhibitions to talk directly with the manufacturers.
We look for toys that are:
- Stimulating: featuring perhaps flashing lights, sounds and movement but that are also not too complicated
- New and current: ‘classic’ toys are fine but kids typically want the latest and greatest
- Family toys: we like toys that allow two individuals to play together as a team or in competition with each other
- Good value: a toy that we think will continue to deliver interest and excitement
So, in summary, we look for toys that can deliver long-term stimulation, help the child develop their switch skills and also help to increased cognitive awareness.
Our challenge is to find toys we can adapt – believe me it is not as easy as it sounds. The Domino Lay and Play train is a great example of a switch adapted toy that features light, sound and movement. Watch the 20 second video.
Once we have found something suitable we need to figure out the best way to adapt it and specifically what sort of switching system will be best.
We are required to do appropriate product compliance testing and use independent laboratories to test the modifications we make to each toy to ensure it complies with national and regional requirements. We use two types of switching systems to adapt toys.
For the majority of the toys we wire a small socket (called a 1/8” or 3.5mm jack socket) into the toys on/off control circuit. This gives users the possibility to plug a big button type switch, such as a ‘Buddy Button’ into the socket and hence into the control circuit of the toy. Pressing the Buddy Button activates the toy.
There are many different types of external big button type switches and the vast majority of them use 1/8” plugs on the end of a length of wire around 4 ft long. Not surprisingly these are called ‘wired switches’.
Wired switches work well if the toy stays in the same place or with limited movement.
We also produce wireless switch controlled toys. These toys use a radio transmitter and receiver to activate the toy.
Typically, we build the transmitter into a small box and then fit the wireless receiver inside the toy and wire it into the toy’s control circuit.
Then, when a big button switch is plugged into the box and pressed, the transmitter sends a signal to the receiver inside the toy telling it to turn on.
Wireless switching works best when the toy moves away from the user and the wire would restrict or prevent it working properly.