HotWheels (Mattel)

HotCam A toy car that records video and sound, then plays back through your TV. {watch video}

Started on 03/05/2004

2 minute HotCam illustrating 'stunt play' (playing with the hotcam as a car). This video is cut using footage shot entirely by the kids.

2 minute HotCam video illustrating 'video play' (playing with the hotcam as a video camera). This video is cut using footage shot entirely by the kids.

When children play with toy cars they tell stories; they provide their own narration and special effects - rolling cars over and over in slow motion, doing the voices of the cops and the robbers, and making dramatic crashing noises.

The HotCam is a manual control (not remote control), toy car with an onboard (driver's view) video camera and microphone. The HotCam car enables children to record certain 'scenes' in their own stories. The children can then 'play' their captured scenes through a television in chronological order. In this way HotCam stories can be shared with parents, siblings and friends, and children can re-experience their stories.

The recording mode is super simple: there is a push button on top of the car; when the button is ON the headlights and rear lights come on and the car is recording. When the button is OFF the lights go off and the camera is not recording.

The HotCam was very successfully tested with four children aged between 4 and 8, both individually and in groups (see video).

The children sometimes played with the HotCam in a car context; racing, crashing, jumping, etc, Other times they would use it as a simple and accessible video camera; exploring, explaining, showing off, spying, etc.

Children's stories are highly imaginative; whilst the car provides the obvious focal point, the characters, events, and narrative structure are created entirely by the child and always on the fly. The momentary nature of this type of play means that these stories dissipate quickly, they remain incidental and instantly gratifying. The HotCam enables children to create, preserve and share these stories in a similar way to something as traditional and tangible as a painted picture or clay model.

Theo presented the HotCam to HotWheels in fall 2004, at their company headquarters in Los Angeles. On the strength of the HotCam project Theo was subsequently offered (and undertook) an internship at HotWheels, Mattel, in Los Angeles, for the duration of summer 2004.

1 minute HotCam video 'HotCam Sub', taking the HotCam underwater (heavily edited but NOT faked!). This video is cut using footage shot entirely by the kids.