- Toyota released a mobile application that lets kids be creative and learn how to invent and build new gadgets, according to a statement by the car maker. The Mobilmo app, developed with the Tokyo-based digital art collective teamLab, lets children use 3-D objects to build new machines, move them around in a virtual environment and share their inventions with other kids around the world.
- Toyota has sponsored programs to urge kids to develop their creative talents, starting in 2004 with its "Toyota Dream Car Art Contest." The Japanese automaker has received more than 4.6 million drawings of dream cars from children throughout the world since debuting the contest.
- As kids enter a world that is more permeated with advanced electronics, Toyota wanted to engage these "digital natives" who have grown up using the internet and mobile technology. The Mobilmo app, which is now available for iOS and is coming soon to Android, is intended to let kids share their ideas and improve upon each other’s work.
Toyota and teamLab, which explain the app in a video documentary, are embracing new technologies that will affect the way children learn and function in society as they grow into adulthood, the next evolution in a tradition of brands putting their name on toys that goes back almost a hundred years when Mickey Mouse first became a licensing phenomenon. In addition to potentially cultivating goodwill toward the Toyota brand, the Mobilmo app is designed to provide kids with an early look at computer-aided design that is an essential part of almost every scientific or engineering discipline. Ideally, the app will help to spark the creative imagination of the next generation of technologists and position itself as the top-of-mind auto brand for the young, future car-buying demographic and their parents.
Almost any parent can tell you that kids born into the smartphone era can't wait to reach an age when they’re allowed to have their own mobile device, even if that means they will rarely use it to make phone calls. A study last year on "digital natives" said the average age for a child getting a first smartphone is now 10.3 years, while millions of younger kids are using household tablets and their parents’ phones. Children are born to parents whose eyes are glued to handheld devices and learn to imitate the behavior at an early age.
The pervasiveness of mobile technology has led to social hand-wringing and warnings about the negative effects of smartphones on kids, echoing the fears of earlier generations who fretted over the role of television and the internet as electronic babysitters. While the App Store and Google Play are permeated with games with little or no redeeming educational value, the platforms also have thousands of educational apps to help children get math help, practice language skills and learn almost any subject. Videogame platforms like Xbox, PlayStation and Wii have a dearth of educational content.