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Inside the Tiny Factory That Made a Million Robots

Tinybop brings together researchers, artists, and engineers to build digital toys that delight and educate children. Their first app, The Human Body, has been downloaded 4.9M times and was featured as an App Store Best of 2013. The Tinybop team has since made four new apps - Plants, The Robot Factory, Homes, and Simple Machines which launches today.

Since its debut on April 9th, over 1.3 million robots have been created in The Robot Factory. That’s a million robots in 6 weeks. Fans of the app ourselves, we wanted to give you a window into Tinybop’s inspiration and process behind these friendly robots.

As we’ve been exploring all things robot this month at CreativeMornings HQ and our 115 chapters, we’ve also noticed how many of the talks and research focus on the human elements of robotics. Maybe that’s exactly why The Robot Factory has captured so many of our hearts and minds. We chatted with the (very human!) team about the inspiration behind the app, and from the very beginning, they put as much emphasis on the personalities and emotions of the robots as they did their functions.

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To realize the delicate balance between robot and human — notice the tiny heart in their mood board above — Tinybop worked with talented illustrator Owen Davey who helped bring the robots to (metaphorical) life.

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Above, you can see some of Owen’s iterations for robot parts, meant to be assembled into an almost infinite number of robot-combos.

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Owen collaborated with a team of 22 — Youngna, Leah and Abby on product, Melissa and Roza on design, Rob, Josh, Andrew, Cameron, Sam and Abe on development, Kika and Katie on community, Jessie, Holly and Sarah on production, Brian on sound, Sara and Ashley on editorial and research, and Katie and Monique on education — to take his ideas from initial sketch to color palette to final app.

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The Tinybop team is led by Raul Gutierrez, CEO and friend of CreativeMornings, who spoke at our New York City chapter in January 2014. His talk revolved around the notions of childhood and play — and the potential that exists as a result of their interaction.

“Any time we interact with a kid, we are constructing their childhood.” — Raul Gutierrez, CEO of Tinybop

This construction of childhood, how those formative experiences influence a person and impact their development into their adult selves, is ever present in The Robot Factory. We recently asked the Tinybop team what careers they envisioned for users of the app and Kika, Head of Community, hopes that Tinybop fans “grow into adults who are constantly innovating and creating their own path.”

Whether it’s the kids or the kids at heart who use The Robot Factory to educate and inspire, we can’t wait to see what stories it sparks. Who knows, maybe in a few years Sky, whose robot loves egg and cheese bagels, will develop a connected home appliance that makes us breakfast.

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