The wooden toys of Channapatna date back to Tipu Sultan’s era. They have been the same almost all these years except for new additions now and then. With a GI tag, the Channapatna toys travel worldwide and are in great demand. More than 6000 artisans in Channapatna town of Ramanagara district of Karnataka earn their livelihood by making toys around the year. After all these years, however, these colourful toys are upgrading with artificial intelligence.
Enter Embdes Engineering Solutions Pvt limited (e2S) of Bengaluru, a provider for Product designs in Telecom, Networking, Automotive, Medical, and IoT domains. Once on a random visit to Channapatna toy market, Managing Director of e2s Mr Vijay Anand and Sales Manager Raghavendra were shocked to find China-made toys in those shops. When enquired, the shopkeeper explained how attractive Chinese toys were with music adding that they were cost-effective fetching him more margin than the ones the artisans there make.
This put the duo into thinking. After returning to their workspace in Bommanahall Roopena Agrahara, Bengaluru they started discussing with their team of designers about upgrading the wooden toys. After a few weeks, the team at e2s came up with the idea of upgrading the toys with artificial intelligence using electronic devices.
Take the toy train, for instance. The vibrant coloured train is appealing but can only be pulled using a thread by children while playing. But the e2s revamped train has a tiny button underneath which, when pressed, starts playing the sound of the train. There is also a tiny red light on top of the toy that adds to the fun part. Similarly, a swaying doll now sings the famous Kannada song associated with it each time it sways.
More than designing the electronic part, the team found it tough to convince the artisans to try it. Firstly, they wanted tiny chambers to be carved in specific parts which the artisans were reluctant to do. After much perseverance, they gave in.
Once the toys returned to the design lab with necessary modifications, the team got into working. They fit all the necessary minute devices in it and did enough trials to put them out on a sale.
After seeing the newer version of toys made by them, the artisans were excited and eager to put them out on shelves. The company is designing a handful of toy models to help the artisans and also assist them in selling these AI-powered devices online. Finally, after centuries Channapatna toys have adapted themselves to technological change.