Think it all the way through. For the monster to count to 10, you would have to supply you daughter with 10 cookies. After retrieving them from the backpack, she will then eat them. All 10. It's lunch time in a couple of hours.
Well, you could try to get to the microprocessor that controls it and reprogram it to count to 10. I know that is what my sons would do. My older one would probably make sure that Linux was installed as well.
I didn't think about the cookie issue! But then again, it would be quite easy for a parent to take more than a daily allotted ration of cookies away from their child while he or she is playing with this toy, don't you think? Maybe the cookie bit was the design flaw in the product! I guess it's a decision between making a fun toy and an educational toy.
Well, we don't want to send kids the message that it's okay to eat more than three cookies at a time, do we? At that point, they should switch to carrot sticks or something healthy.
Seriously, memory is so cheap these days that it seems like it should be easy enough to have Cookie Monster count to 100.
If you did this, you would also want a subroutine to re-initialize the count after a certain amount of idle time (probably about 2-3 minutes).
Let's say your daughter is playing with the toy and then goes to bed. You didn't say how old she is, but if you've bought this toy for her, presumably she is just learning to count. If she pops her first cookie in Cookie Monster's mouth the next morning, and he says "72" instead of "1," she's going to be very confused. He really needs to start from "1" every time.
Alternatively, you could add a sensor in the backpack so that the count re-initializes every time you take the cookies back out. I think this would be ideal from a learning perspective, but would be more difficult to implement.
I can definitely see a new Gadget Freak column coming out of this...
Aww only counts to 3? That's sad but it's probably memory issue. Depending on how they are synthesizing sound. To cut cost they probably used some cheap MCU with limited onboard memory. it almost sounds like a 4bit MCU? They still exist... If the MCU is fast enough u could still synthesize sound from a DIO pin.
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When my younger boy was learning to talk he thought that "too much" was a fixed quantity. I would always encourage him to learn the motor skills required to dispense his own food, so in his high chair he would try his best to decanter mustard, ketchup or syrup, and if he managed to drown his food I would say, "Brad, you took too much". It seemed to make sense to him, "one, two, two much.....".
So when he'd ask for a cookie I would ask, "How many do you want?" He would think for a moment, and I imagine that he pictured his plate overflowing with cookies and would say, "too much".
That is $10 dollars per number. Pretty good return on investment on Hasbro's part.
I would consider taking it apart and seeing if you could increase the count number in a "hacking" sense. If It plays sounds and such, I am sure there is a small microcontroller onboard. Perhaps it can be modified to run new code.
Jennifer, so far I hadn't seen any such cookies. But I had seen various interactive educational toys and instruments for learning kids. What I felt is one way it's good and may help the kids for a proper pronounsation and to learn the things in an easier way. But what I found is such toys/instruments are made up of recycled materials and may be harmful for kids.
Having worked as a toy inventor (EE by trade) for the past seven years and working directly with Hasbro and Mattel, I would say there are a number of issues at play that Hasbro need to take into account. Of the top of my head...
1. Memory is cheap but price point at retail is a big player. They're probably using a GeneralPlus or Winbond IC. It probably cost 10 cent in large qty. The few extra words aren't much but are probably a few K in memory. Format is usually 8 or 12kHz at 8 bit.
2. Is the child actually going to put in 10 cookies each time? They are probably going to put in at least three. So the cost for the higher numbers is probably not worth it.
3. I like the comment about cookies verse health food. Last year we heard alot from Sesame St. about how cookies are a "sometime food".
As a parent, yes he should have counted to ten! ;)
Having also designed products similar to this, the Licensor may require the the actual voice (Disney does for sure) so you need to consider the actual voice file size not a senthisized voice output. Frequently compressed files are not approved by the Licensor so the file may need to be full size. That said they should have had it count to ten, by resizing the product to reduce cost else where if needed.
Perhaps the limit of three is not based on engineering or cost limits. There is a 1947 book by George Gamow with the title of One Two Three...Infinity: Facts and Speculations of Science. If you want more information on it go to wikipedia. In the book Gamow mentions a society said to have words only for "one", "two", "three", and "many". Maybe the limit of three by the toy company was based on these concepts.
In the mid to late 60"s there were many farming areas where crows became a great problem. There was a great deal of interest in hunting crows. I remember crow decoys being sold around my area and blinds being built. There were also, "How To", articles written. I recall one such article telling the shooters that crows could count to three. So if 3 hunters entered a blind and 2 left, the crows would know that there was still one in the blind and they would not approach. However, if 4 entered and 3 left, the crows would think the blind was empty and they would have no qualms about approaching the blind.
Therefore, it is obvious that this thing was either designed by a crow or intended for crows. I am guessing the former because few crows have the money to buy the toy. QED
It does not seem like that should be a memory issue, since I have seen a whole lot of other toys that sing songs for as long as a minute, and don't cost even $20, NOT discounted. Probably it is more colsely related to the anticipated short attention span that many kids have been trained for.
Of course there3 are other explanations, such as a product defect, which sometimes products are deffective right out of the box. I have come across that a few times.
I do like the idea of hacking the module and changing the maximum number to something quite a bit higher, such as wherever it runs out of memory.
But memory is really cheap: if Microcenter can sell an 8Gb memory stick for $6 and still make money on it, memory must be very cheap. Of course, if the controller chip is ten cents in quantity, then the whole electronics portion must be very cheap. How much of that $30 represents profit? 50%, 75%? Does anybody know?
Up to a number of years ago I designed product for "all the big guys". Over the years I've used just about every "sound chip" available, going back to the early TI days of "real" LPC speech synthesis. I'm also the inventor of the "core IP" for the "singing balloons" you see in the grocery and party stores. I know a little bit about "sound chips" and cheap micros. Knowing the industry (and the way these people think) I'll offer a couple of things:
1.) Doubtful this was an "internal" product idea. It was most likely brought in from an inventor/inventor group and "probably" had a much bigger speech set that was cut back to meet price points. Internally it was most likely deemed that "3" was the magic number. I'm not going to go and do a bunch of research into this product, but it looks like it's made for the toddler crowd that can hardly walk themselves so "3" is plenty. Not everyone has a budding Einstein and this is by no means an "educational" toy; it's a talking stuffed animal, nothing more. I consider it "lucky" that it had a switch to count at all.
2.) $30 retail translates into a $6.00, in the box, landed "all-in" price. It's not rocket science; divide by 5 and that's what the thing HAS to come in at. Plush is expensive; electronics are "cheap".
3.) The licensor (SS) gets a big fat chunk of that price, and let me tell you, you aren't dealing with "Big Bird" here; these guys are brutal. Brutal enough that when licensing "took off" a number of years ago it sent a whole bunch of talented toy designers and inventors looking for other places to put their brain power. The toy manufacturer cuts into the royalty to the inventor to pay for the privledge of using their property
4.) I don't know where everyone got this idea that anything with a micro in it can be "hacked" but sorry, no. These are "masked ROM" chips. You send your sound files to some company in China, they digitize them and "make them fit" on whatever chip the budget can afford. The "memory" is on the device. No chance you're going to "increase" anything unless you want to tear out the existing chip (a C.O.B. BTW) so other than some dangling wires to the speaker and batteries you're not going to be left with much to "hack".
5.) I saw posts referring to "8 bit". Um, no. Most likely this is a Sonix device (or whatever the flavor of the week is today). These are 4 bit devices with a 6kHz "digitize" rate. The device is rated for some "speech" or "voice" time" like 3,6,9, etc seconds @ 6kHz. for "historical" reasons (look up "telephone voice quality" if you care). You can "speed up or slow down" the digitize rate to some other sample rate, at the expense of speech memory. IOW if you use a "10 second chip" that's @6kHz. If you go to 12kHz you get 5 seconds. But you damn well better have a really good reason to do it. Most manufacturers could care less about "sound quality" as long as it's "recognizable". Given "Cookie Monsters" distorted voice to begin with I bet they used a 3 or 6 second chip (at best).
6.) Someone on this list of comments couldn't help themselves from throwing out propaganda nonsense by stating the use of "recycled materials" and being "harmful for kids" (and can't spell as well). Good luck with that. Contrary to what certain groups want you to think, toys go through some of the most stringent tests there are. When "lead" shows up (or some other thing) someone (SOMEONE) "inside" knew about it and threw the manufacturer under the (Barbie) bus.
I think in this age where you can buy a singing or talking birthday card, memory is not the limiting factor. This may sound really cynical but I can imagine a group of marketing/management people sitting down with their attorneys discussing the need to be politically correct regarding the "proper" number of cookies to be ingested. I'm sure they assume the child will eat whatever has been counted. Too much sugar--just too much. What would the FDA say? What would the AMA say? How do we handle law suites; i.e. my child is now diabetic? What would "Mothers Against Counted Cookies" (MACC) say? You get the picture. Got to be more than memory. (Again, really cynical.)
That's funny. I always think of this comic. He said never trust scientists. One time they tell you to drink 6 cups of water a day.....the next year they say....sorry...shoulda been 3 and should been boiled!
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